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NATO Secretary General promises decisive response in case of sabotage of gas pipeline in Finland

NATO Secretary General promises decisive response in case of sabotage of gas pipeline in Finland NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (Photo: RBC-Ukraine, Vitalii Nosach)

Any intentional damage to critical infrastructure of the alliance will require action in response after an underwater gas pipeline was ruptured in a suspected act of sabotage in Finland, according to Bloomberg.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Jens Stoltenberg said this issue is on the agenda.

"The important thing now is to establish what happened and how this could happen,” Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday. “If it is proven to be a deliberate attack on NATO critical infrastructure, then this will be serious but will also be met by a united and determined response from NATO."

The Balticconnector gas pipeline, connecting NATO member countries Finland and Estonia, began leaking over the weekend, and people familiar with the situation stated on Tuesday that an investigation is underway based on the belief that it was an act of sabotage. Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told reporters it was caused by an "external source" and refused to speculate on who might be responsible.

According to Estonian military officials, the pipeline, damaged early on Sunday, October 8, was torn from one side and displaced from its place.

"Something has dragged this pipe from one side to the other," said Yuri Saska, Commander of the Estonian Navy, to Estonian public broadcaster ERR. "If I try to paint a picture of what I’ve seen without showing it to you, then the pipe itself is covered with a concrete shell. And it looks just as if someone has torn it from the side, and the concrete has broken off or peeled off from the damaged area."

Sabotage on the gas pipeline

Finland registered a small seismic event during the pipeline damage, reported seismologist Jari Kortstrom from the University of Helsinki. According to him, the magnitude was so small that kilograms of TNT could be enough to cause such an explosion, but he said there is no certainty that an explosion caused this event.

Initially, Finland stated that there was no indication of an explosion in the Finnish Gulf that night.

According to Orpo, Finland ensures critical infrastructure security and increases vigilance. The National Bureau of Investigation has initiated a criminal case.

On Tuesday, the Finnish Border Guard patrol ship "Turva" identified the leak's location. It is in Finland's exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from the coast but outside its territorial waters—a distinction that may be crucial as countries contemplate their response.

Data compiled by Bloomberg shows that the patrol ship remained at the incident site throughout the day. An underwater communication cable between the two countries was also damaged.

While the pipeline rupture is not significant to the broader European gas market, it raises questions about the security of supplies as Europe enters the winter. Russia halted gas supplies to Finland in May 2022, approximately a week after the Nordic country announced it would apply for NATO membership in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Norway, a key gas supplier to continental Europe, has supported the increased security of gas infrastructure implemented in the spring of 2022.

A malfunction in the gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia was discovered on the night of October 8. According to government estimates, the gas pipeline will be out of order for several months.

NATO has stated its readiness to assist in the investigation of damage to the Balticconnector maritime gas pipeline located between Finland and Estonia.