Finland and other Baltic countries are on high alert as a natural gas undersea pipeline leak was detected on Sunday from Finland to Estonia. EU officials already suspect the leak was caused by a ‘deliberate act of destruction,’ which fuels concerns about ‘Nordstream 2.0‘ and Europe’s energy security ahead of the Northern Hemisphere winter.
On Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with EU officials about the damage sustained on the 77-kilometer (48-mile) Balticconnector pipeline, first detected by one of the two pipeline operators, Finland’s Gasgrid, on Sunday morning.
Stoltenberg said he also plans to meet with defense ministers in Brussels and discuss more about the pipeline leak.
He said, “The important thing now is to establish what happened and how this could happen … and 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.”
“If it is proven to be a deliberate attack on NATO critical infrastructure… it will be met with a united and determined response”
— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) October 11, 2023
On Tuesday, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said the leak was triggered by an “external source” but failed to speculate on who caused it.
Earlier today, Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Putin, said the damaged pipeline is very “alarming news.” According to the state media Tass News, Peskov said the Kremlin awaits further details. He added explosions that damaged the nearby Nord Stream pipeline one year ago have set “dangerous precedents” across the Baltic Sea.
Meanwhile, Estonian Navy Commander Juri Saska told public broadcaster ERR Tuesday night, “Something has dragged this pipe from one side to the other.”
“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,” Saska said. “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.”
Bloomberg quoted seismologist Jari Kortstrom at the University of Helsinki, who said Finland detected a small seismic event around the time the pipeline sustained damage.
To note, the pipeline sits above a heavily trafficked shipping lane in the Baltic Sea.
“While the rupture of the pipeline is not significant for the wider European gas market, it raises questions about the security of supply just as Europe goes into winter,” Bloomberg said.
This comes several weeks after the first anniversary of the Nord Stream pipeline bombing. Journalist Seymour Hersh has said the US blew up the Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline as part of a covert operation under the guise of the BALTOPS 22 NATO exercise.