Bank accounts belonging to Finland’s embassy and consulate office in Russia have been frozen by Russian authorities, according to the Finnish Foreign Ministry. The ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the accounts of two of Finland’s diplomatic missions in Russia are inaccessible.
Finland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Pekka Haavisto, addressed the matter during a press conference, stating that the ministry has been in contact with Russia regarding the issue, which arose at the beginning of this month.
As a result, Finland’s embassy and other diplomatic missions in Russia have resorted to making cash payments. The Finnish government has been in touch with Russian authorities to address the situation, but the seriousness of the matter persists.
The affected bank accounts are those of the Finnish Embassy in Moscow and the Consulate General’s office in St. Petersburg. Despite receiving messages from the Finnish government, Russian authorities have not provided any reasons for freezing the accounts.
Haavisto explained, “We sent a note to Russia in the beginning of May. Russia has not yet offered an official explanation.”
Despite the frozen bank accounts, Finland’s Minister affirmed that the embassies will remain operational as alternative payment methods in Russia are sought. He acknowledged the possibility of handling all embassy payments in cash, but this would require additional resources.
“We will continue to discuss with Russian authorities to reach a solution. However, this does not mean we have to close the embassy or consulate. We are now trying to find other methods to take care of all payments,” Haavisto stated.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, attending the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, described the freezing of the embassies’ bank accounts as an excessive reciprocal measure by Russia. He emphasized the need for Russia to find ways to allow Finland’s embassies to operate in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
It is currently unclear whether the freezing of Finland’s embassy and consulate bank accounts by Russian authorities is connected to Finland’s recent accession to NATO. Finland officially joined NATO in a ceremony at the defense headquarters in Brussels, where the Finnish flag was raised alongside those of the other 30 member states.
Further updates will be awaited to determine if there is any connection between the frozen bank accounts and Finland’s NATO membership.