Finland contacts China, Russia regarding Baltic Sea pipeline investigation By Reuters

By Anne Kauranen

HELSINKI (Reuters) -Finland’s foreign ministry said on Friday it had contacted China and Russia via diplomatic channels regarding the investigation of damage to a pipeline and a telecoms cable in the Baltic Sea.

Early on Oct. 8, a gas pipeline and a telecoms cable connecting Finland and Estonia were broken, in what Finnish investigators say may have been deliberate sabotage.

The Finnish foreign ministry, in a statement to Reuters on Friday, said it had contacted China to seek help to get in touch with the NewNew Polar Bear vessel, a ship named as a subject of investigation by Finnish police.

Regarding Russia, Finland contacted the Russian foreign ministry “stating the seriousness of the matter” and that an investigation had been launched.

A second telecoms cable, linking Sweden and Estonia, suffered a partial outage at around the same time, which may also have been caused by outside influence, Swedish and Estonian authorities have said.

Investigators have not said how the damage to the Balticconnector pipeline and the two telecoms cables may have occurred.

The incidents have stoked concerns about the security of energy supplies in the wider Nordic region and prompted the NATO military alliance to ramp up patrols in the Baltic Sea.

The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation, which is in charge of the pipeline investigation, is probing several ships, it said on Oct. 17.

Investigators named the NewNew Polar Bear, which is a Chinese container ship travelling between China and Europe via the Arctic, and the Sevmorput, a Russian nuclear-powered cargo vessel transiting between Murmansk and St. Petersburg.

NewNew Shipping, the owner and operator of the NewNew Polar Bear, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

The Russian authority responsible for nuclear-powered vessels, Atomflot, has previously denied that one of its ships had been involved in the incidents. It declined to give further comment on Friday.

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