COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CN) — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the alliance will make a unified response should a damaged undersea gas pipeline and communication cable in the Baltic Sea, connecting Finland with Estonia, turn out be the result of sabotage.
“If it can be proven that there was an attack on the gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, it will be met by a united and decisive response from NATO,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference before joining a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
Finland became NATO’s 31st member this year, while Russia repeatedly warned against the move before ratification of the Nordic country. Another incident happened in the Baltic Sea a year ago when an unknown perpetrator blew up Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines.
The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday that the recent incident is being investigated as aggravated vandalism, Swedish broadcaster SVT writes.
“At this point, I can say that there are external traces on the seabed,” said Robin Lardot, head of the bureau.
The damage could have been caused by mechanical force, not an explosion, the bureau said. According to the Finnish border guard, the investigation will take days.
Investigators refuse to speculate as to whether a foreign state was involved in the incident.
According to Norsar, a Norwegian research institute specializing in seismology and seismic monitoring, a “thumping sound” detected in the Balticconnector pipeline could have been caused by an anchor hitting through, writes Finnish broadcaster YLE on Wednesday.
“We are currently analyzing the data in order to get more detailed information on whether the sound originates from an explosion or something else,” said Arve E. Mjelva, vice president of Norsar.
Estonian Navy Commander Jüri Saska explained to the Estonian public radio station ERR Tuesday evening, that the gas pipe’s protective concrete cover was broken or torn off and that the pipeline had moved out of place.
Balticconnector appears to be damaged on one side only Saska said but wouldn’t give concluding remarks until the investigation has ended.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said on Tuesday, “It is likely that the damage to both the gas pipeline and the data cable is caused by external activity,” adding to the statement that exactly what caused the damage remains unknown.
Damage to the Balticconector gas pipeline and data cable was first discovered on Sunday when gas operators in Finland and Estonia saw a pressure drop, Finnish media reported. Both operators estimate that the pipeline repairs will take at least five months and will be unable to transport gas before April 2024, SVT reports.Follow @LasseSrensen13
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