Finland, Denmark say embassy bank accounts in Russia frozen

HELSINKI (Reuters) -Finland and Denmark's bank accounts in Russia have been frozen, prompting their embassies to make payments in cash, officials from both countries said on Wednesday.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters the bank accounts had stopped working on April 27. Denmark's foreign ministry said its bank accounts had been frozen since last summer.

"The accounts of Finnish embassies have been frozen in Russia and at the moment they cannot be used," Haavisto said, adding its embassy and consulate in Russia had been using cash reserves to pay bills.

The Danish foreign ministry said restrictions imposed by Russian authorities meant its embassy's bank cards were blocked.

"Increased documentation requirements prior to all payments mean concretely that the embassy has been paying salaries to employees and paying bills in cash for a long time," the ministry said.

Russia's central bank did not respond to a request for comment.

Finland, which has a long border with Russia, formally joined NATO on April 4 in a historic policy shift brought on my last year's Russian invasion of Ukraine that drew a threat from Moscow of counter-measures.

Haavisto said that while sanctions imposed on Russia had made money transfers harder, "maybe it was not thought through how serious consequences this would cause to Finnish embassies".

He said freezing the accounts amounted to "bullying", referencing the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 which is meant to safeguard diplomatic missions abroad.

"This is a matter that cannot be decided by banks," he said.

Finland had sent Russian authorities a notice on May 4 requesting that Russia ensure the missions' ability to function and asking for an official explanation for the freeze, but it had not received one so far, Haavisto said.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto, Moscow Newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie, Alexander Smith and Grant McCool)