to updateIf the undersea gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia turns out to have been sabotaged, NATO will respond “united and resolute,” says NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. She added that such a deliberate attack on critical infrastructure would be “of course dangerous.” It will take at least five months to repair the gas pipeline. The Gasgrid operator reported this on Wednesday.
An unexpected loss of pressure occurred in a subsea pipeline in the Baltic Sea on Saturday evening. Both Finland and Estonia began investigations immediately. “The damage to the gas pipeline and communications cables is likely the result of external activity,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said.
One thing is clear, this was not caused by nature
Estonian Defense Minister Hannu Pefkur agreed. According to Pefkor, the damage was caused by “very heavy force.” “One thing is clear, this was not caused by nature.”
Stoltenberg said before a meeting on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Western military alliance in Brussels that the defense ministers of the 31 NATO countries will discuss the incident, according to what was reported by the business news agency “Bloomberg.”
“The most important thing now is to determine what happened and how it could have happened,” Stoltenberg explained to reporters. He added: “If this is proven to be a deliberate attack on NATO’s critical infrastructure, it will not only be considered a serious matter, but will also be met with a unified and resolute NATO response.”
The Kremlin is waiting for more details
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the report on damage to the pipeline as “disturbing news” and added that the Kremlin was waiting for more details. He also said that explosions that damaged the nearby Nord Stream pipeline nearly a year ago had set “dangerous precedents” in the Baltic Sea.
For her part, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that she did not rule out Russia’s involvement in an interview with a local news channel. If proven, NATO could begin “Article IV consultations.” This is a clause that provides for consultations among coalition members if the security of one of the member states is threatened.
A seismic event
Finland recorded a small seismic event at the time the pipeline was damaged, said Jari Kortstrom, a seismologist at the University of Helsinki. He added: “The size is so small that a few kilograms of TNT could be enough to cause such an explosion, but it is not certain that the event was due to an explosion.”
But the Finnish police unit conducting the investigation said Wednesday that the damage appeared to be caused by “mechanical force, not an explosion.” National Bureau of Investigation representative Risto Lohi did not provide further details. “No hypothesis is excluded.”
Finnish Prime Minister Petri Orbo said that Finland is working to secure vital infrastructure and increase vigilance.
In addition to the leak in the undersea gas pipeline, apparent damage to the data cable was also found. Because this cable is located in Estonian waters, Estonian authorities are leading this investigation.
Norway, a major gas supplier to Europe, said on Tuesday that the country will maintain increased safety levels in gas infrastructure to be introduced in spring 2022.
Lithuania will expand security zones around natural gas facilities where its ships patrol, Lithuanian Energy Minister Dainius Krajice said on Wednesday. “We constantly receive information about Russian ships – alleged scientific ships – roaming the energy infrastructure located in the Baltic Sea and in the North Sea,” he said after a meeting devoted to the security of strategic facilities.
Since the explosions in Nord Stream, NATO has intensified its maritime patrols in the North Sea and is developing new technologies – including undersea drones – that can help detect suspicious activity on undersea infrastructure in real time.
Increase in gas prices
Due to gas pipeline problems, the price of European gas rose again. On Tuesday the price rose to more than 49 euros per megawatt hour, but on Wednesday it fell by 5.9 percent to about 46.5 euros. Last Friday, the price of gas on the leading Dutch TTF market entered the weekend at a rate of €38.2.
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