This is not an ordinary failure, it is not the result of normal operation – say the Finnish authorities. They refer to the damage to the gas pipeline that connects Finland with Estonia. There are many indications that this was a deliberate action. Helsinki does not say directly that Russia is behind it, but they do not rule it out either. Estonian politicians say more directly that only Moscow has an interest in something like this.
On Sunday – just before 02:00 at night – there was a sudden drop in pressure in the Balticconnector undersea gas pipeline connecting Finland with Estonia. Swedish seismologists recorded a small explosion in Finnish territorial waters.
Also on Sunday, data transmission was disrupted in an undersea cable running under the waters of the Gulf of Finland. The Finnish and Estonian authorities indicate that both situations are not a coincidence and there is a human being behind them. – The initial assessment is that the damage could not have been caused by normal use or pressure fluctuations. It is likely that the damage is the result of external action, says Petteri Orpo, Prime Minister of Finland. – We went through the pipeline millimeter by millimeter. It was not a leak, just obvious, intentional damage, adds Markku Hassinen, deputy chief of the Finnish Coast Guard.
The investigation is ongoing on both sides of the Gulf of Finland. The nearly 80-kilometer Balticconnector gas pipeline was put into operation just four years ago to connect the Finnish and Estonian gas networks and thus reduce dependence on gas imports from Russia. Although restoring transmission in the gas pipeline may take several months, fortunately, Sunday’s incident will not have a major impact on energy security. – Finland is not dependent on gas. Oil, nuclear energy and renewable energy sources play a much larger role. But this situation reminds us that we live in very dangerous times, that there are hybrid ways to influence our national security, infrastructure, but also our sense of security – notes Iro Särkkä, Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
The governments in Tallinn and Helsinki received immediate support from NATO. This is an important political signal. Especially for Finland, which has only been a member of the alliance since April. – If it turns out to be an attack on NATO’s critical infrastructure, we will treat it seriously. This will be met with a solidarity and decisive response from NATO, says Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General.
The main suspect of sabotage is Russia. Kremlin spokesman says: “we have nothing to do with this matter.” – I don’t have any information about this. I don’t know if our services know anything. But this is, of course, quite disturbing news, because we have already had a dangerous precedent of terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure in the Baltic Sea, argues Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman.
In September 2022, there were explosions that seriously damaged the pipes of the Russian-German Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines running at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It is still unknown who was behind the sabotage.
Now there is no evidence either, but there are strong circumstantial evidence. – Over the years, we have seen that Russia has been drawing up plans for wind farms, sea cables, pipelines, and critical infrastructure in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic, and we know that Russia has a fleet that is capable of carrying out such sabotage, says Henri Vanhanen, Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
Data from the Marine Traffic website – which tracks ship movements in real time – show that a Russian cargo ship was near the site of the gas pipeline leak over the weekend.
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Main photo source: Reuters