Swedish Government Says Estonia has Linked Baltic Cable, Pipeline Damages

October 23, 2023

STOCKHOLM — Estonia believes that damage to a telecommunications cable in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Estonia is related to damage to a pipeline and cable between Estonia and Finland, Sweden’s government said on Monday.

On Oct. 8 a subsea gas pipeline and telecommunications cable connecting Finland and Estonia were damaged, in what Finnish investigators believe may have been deliberate sabotage. Helsinki is investigating the pipeline incident, while Tallinn is probing the cable incident.

Last week, Sweden said a third link had been damaged at roughly the same time as the other two.

“It has been confirmed that the cable has been damaged through external force or tampering,” Carl-Oskar Bohlin, Minister for Civil Defence, said in a statement.

Bohlin added that Estonia had assessed that “the damage to the gas pipeline and communications cable between Finland and Estonia is related to the damage to the communications cable between Sweden and Estonia.”

The government did not give further details about what could link the two incidents.

NATO has said it is stepping up patrols in the Baltic Sea following the incidents, which have stoked concerns about the security of energy supplies in the wider Nordic region.

The government said NATO had deployed a mine-sweeping vessel and had increased air surveillance.

Finnish investigators have said the damage detected this month may have been an act of sabotage, though they have yet to conclude whether it was an accident or a deliberate act.

The investigation into the damage to the Balticonnector gas pipeline a nearby cable is currently focused on the role of the Chinese NewNew Polar Bear container vessel, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has said.

On Monday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson called for an “objective, fair and professional” investigation into the damage, saying a Chinese vessel in the area at the time was sailing normally.

Estonian investigators, who are also proving the telecoms cable incidents, said they were still looking at two ships, the NewNew Polar Bear and Russia’s Sevmorput.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the damage.

In 2022, the larger Nord Stream gas pipelines which cross the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany were damaged by explosions that authorities have said were deliberate acts of sabotage, although it is still unclear who was behind the attack.

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