Fears are growing that Vladimir Putin could be to blame for the shutdown of a crucial gas pipeline between two NATO countries.
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said today that he thought sabotage was the most likely explanation for the Balticconnector gas pipeline, which runs between Finland and Estonia, shutting down.
It comes as scientists in Norway today reported they had detected a “probable” explosion along the Finnish coast of the Baltic Sea in the early morning of 8 October – the same day a gas pipeline was shut down because of an unusual drop in pressure.
President Niinisto said: “It is likely that the damage to both the gas pipe and the communication cable is the result of external activity.”
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Although Niinisto says “the cause of the damage is not yet clear”, some commentators point the blame at Vladimir Putin.
KyivPost correspondent Jason Jay Smart, wrote on X: “It is worth noting that Russia likes to blow up gas pipelines.”
The Norwegian Independent Seismic Monitoring Foundation (NORSAR) detected seismic activity with a magnitude of 1.0 at approximately 1.20am local time on Sunday.
The magnitude is much lower than the Nord Stream explosion detected in September 2022 and the organisation says “further analysis of the data is ongoing”.
Finnish Officials said an assessment of the Balticonnector pipeline showed clear signs of damage and that they would investigate it as a crime.
The reports of seismic activity are so far proving to be controversial with the University of Helsinki’s Institute of Seismology telling the Wall Street Journal that “we have not detected any signals of an explosion”.
However, NATO isn’t taking any chances when it comes to its infrastructure and today announced it is “stepping up to enhance the security of critical undersea infrastructure”.
Europe has been cautious about its gas pipelines since explosions blew up the Nord Stream pipeline running between Russia and Germany last year.
In a statement, it added: “We have increased naval patrols in the North Sea since the Nord Stream sabotage, and are focusing on technological innovation — including with drones to better detect suspicious activity near underwater cables.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he had been in contact with Finland’s president.
He wrote on X: “NATO is sharing information & stands ready to support Allies concerned.”
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