Finnish Police Find Anchor From Chinese Ship Near Damaged Balticconnector Subsea Gas Pipeline
Technical investigations into the damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline have confirmed the suspicion that the anchor raised from the sea belongs to the Newnew Polar Bear, Finnish police said, Yle reports.
The investigation has been going on for a month.
"It can now be stated that the anchor raised from the sea on 24 October is, according to certain technical data, suitable as an anchor for the Newnew Polar Bear. In addition, it has been discovered that the anchor in question has the same type of paint as the damaged gas pipe," says Crime Commissioner Risto Lohi.
On 8 October, a leak was discovered in the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia. It soon became clear that the pipe was severely damaged, and authorities suspect that the damage was intentional.
Earlier, Finland said it suspected Russia of damaging the Balticconnector submarine cable and gas pipeline to Estonia.
The damaged pipeline is located in Finland's economic zone, namely in the central part of the Gulf of Finland. Finnish security services consider the Balticconnector incident to be a threat to the country's national security. The Finnish Defence Forces are leading the investigation.
The maritime telecommunications cable, which was damaged at the same time, is part of the critical infrastructure that ensures the availability of communications and the Internet in Sweden and Estonia.
The Swedish Ministry of Defence confirmed that the telecommunications cable between Sweden and Estonia was deliberately damaged by an external force or interference on the same day as the mysterious incident on the Balticconnector pipeline connecting Estonia and Finland.
In turn, NATO has stepped up its Baltic Sea patrols following the damage to underwater infrastructure.
"Enhanced measures include additional surveillance and reconnaissance flights, including the use of maritime patrol aircraft, AWACS aircraft and drones. A flotilla of four mine-searching ships is also deployed to the area," NATO said in a statement.
"We continue to monitor the situation closely and are in close contact with Allies Estonia and Finland, as well as our partner Sweden," said NATO spokesman Dylan White.
He added that the decision to step up patrols in the Baltic Sea does not mean an increased military threat. It demonstrates that the relationship between Allies is strong, and NATO as a whole sees the protection of critical infrastructure as an important issue.