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Wikileaks: Gas Pipeline Permit Was Too Easy in US View

US diplomatic cables acquired by YLE from Wikileaks show that American Embassy officials in Helsinki were surprised by the ease with which the Finnish government granted a permit for the construction of a Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline through Finnish territorial waters. The matter was handled as an environmental, not a security policy issue.

Image: YLE Uutisgrafiikka

The gas pipeline project has moved forward smoothly from the start. The Wikileaks documents acquired by YLE show that within the US Embassy, the lack of political controversy over the project in Finland was a surprise.

Only a few days before the Finnish government issued a permit for the construction of a section of the pipeline to run through Finnish waters, US Embassy officials were consternated that Finland was dealing with the issue solely as an environmental question without regard for its security policy dimensions.

Lipponen: Sweden was two-faced

Former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen became a consultant for the pipeline company. In an interview with YLE's Swedish-language TV, Lipponen praised the way the Finnish government handled the matter.

In contrast, he was critical of how it was approached in Sweden.

"Sweden has followed the same line as Finland in the Nord Stream question. It was discussed here, too, but we didn't play two cards at once, as was done in Sweden," said Lipponen.

Russia feared politicisation

Unlike, for example, in Estonia, the application for a pipeline construction permit was considered an entirely non-political issue in Finland. That was what Russia wanted.

According to US information, more than six months before the government's decision to approve the permit, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb assured his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that the pipeline had not become a political issue in Finland. Construction work was subsequently in full swing even before the government gave its final stamp of approval.

About 1000 kilometres of the natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany have been completed, with only around 200 more to be finished.

See the original diplomatic cables (pdf files):

Subject: Finns debate Nord streams as government's review nears end

Finland: Putin sets chilly tone with pm Vanhanen

Stubb raises Georgia and US missile defence with Russian fm Lavrov

Sources: YLE

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