Finland says it has informed Russia about its Baltic Sea gas pipe probe

By Reuters - November 8, 2023
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A damaged Balticconnector gas pipeline that connects Finland and Estonia is pictured in this undated handout picture in the Baltic Sea. Finnish Border Guard/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland has informed Russia about its investigation into the damage on Oct. 7 to the subsea Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland, the Finnish foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen told a news conference Russia has not asked for Finland‘s help in investigating the damage to a Russian telecommunications cable that happened on the same night.

Russian state company Rostelecom on Tuesday said a fibre optic cable linking St. Petersburg and Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave was damaged at the same time that a Chinese ship passed over it, and that repairs were now ongoing.

Two other telecoms cables in the area were also damaged around the same time.

Finnish police have said they are investigating whether the Hong Kong registered container vessel, the NewNew Polar Bear, damaged the pipeline by dragging its anchor over the sea bed, but have not concluded whether his was an accident or not.

The anchor was later found near the pipeline and was retrieved by Finnish investigators.

The incidents have highlighted the vulnerability of marine cables and pipelines at a time when security fears are running high because of the Ukraine war. Investigators have yet to establish who was responsible for blowing up Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic last year.

(Reporting by Anne Kauranen and Simon Johnson, writing by Anna Ringstrom, editing by Terje Solsvik)