Kremlin says freezing of Finland's bank accounts in Russia was forced retaliatory step

FILE PHOTO: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a news conference in Samarkand

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Thursday that a decision to freeze the bank accounts of Finnish embassies and consulates in Russia was a response to what it called the unfriendly acts of "the collective West", including Finland.

Officials from Finland and Denmark said on Wednesday that the diplomatic bank accounts of both countries in Russia had been frozen, prompting their embassies to make payments in cash.

Finland, which has a long border with Russia, formally joined NATO on April 4 in a historic policy shift triggered by Russia's war on Ukraine, something Moscow calls "a special military operation."

Russian embassies across Europe have had problems with their bank accounts since, and in some cases have had funds confiscated to punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine.

Commenting on Russia's freezing of Finnish diplomatic bank accounts, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:

"This is not an initiative from the Russian side. We are reacting to the situation created by the authorities of several countries of the collective West, including, to our regret, Finland."

Peskov said Russia never left what he called "unfriendly actions" unanswered.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters on Wednesday that Helsinki had sent Russian authorities a note on May 4 requesting that Moscow ensure the diplomatic missions' ability to function and asking for an official explanation for the freeze, but had not received one so far.

Peskov said Moscow would reply.

"We will respond to the note by reiterating that the principle of reciprocity and the principle of responding appropriately to unfriendly steps will continue to prevail in our relations," he said.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Osborn)