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POLITICO: China avoids investigation into damage to gas pipeline in Baltic Sea

14-11-2023 |

Finland and Estonia have formally submitted a legal notice to China for cooperation as part of their ongoing investigation into damage to Baltic Sea critical infrastructure.

“Just a couple of days ago, we, together with Finland, handed over a note of legal cooperation to China,” Estonia’s Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna told POLITICO on Monday. “We do hope that China will be cooperative and we can get the opportunity to make more investigations.”

Finnish and Estonian authorities have been investigating the rupture of the Balticconnector gas pipeline and of a telecommunications cable connecting the two countries, both damaged around October 7-8. A telecom cable linking Estonia to Sweden was also damaged on the same night, along with one of Russia's telecom cables in the Gulf of Finland. Officials have previously said they believe all of these incidents to be linked.

After a preliminary investigation, authorities have zeroed in on a Chinese vessel, NewNew Polar Bear, which was in the area at the time of the damage. Finnish police said they believe the ship might have dropped an anchor on the seabed, breaking the pipeline and the multiple telecom cables.

Finland and Estonia said they have been in touch with China over the vessel’s possible involvement. Estonia's Tsahkna said the length of the investigation will depend "on China — how cooperative China is."

“We have to investigate as well [on] the question [about] the ship and the crew or the captain and so on," he said.

While China has reportedly promised "full cooperation" into the probe, its stance remains unclear, as relations between Beijing and Tallinn are complicated by a recent plan by Taiwan to set up a new government office in the Baltic country.