Finland and Estonia will set up a joint investigation team to cooperate in the criminal investigation into the Balticconnector gas pipeline leak, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NIB) said on Thursday.
"The investigation team will enable smooth cooperation in criminal investigation and exchange of information without the need to resort to a separate process of mutual legal assistance," said General Head of the Investigation, Detective Superintendent Risto Lohi in a statement.
The NIB said police have made progress in the investigation, especially in exploring the vessels moving in the area.
Other investigations are still focused on the seabed and the traces visible there, it said.
The authorities are cooperating and the Border Guard has assisted the police in the investigation.
"At present, the conditions at the sea are challenging, which slows down the examination of the seabed. The area to be examined is vast and located dozens of meters below the sea level, which makes the investigation particularly demanding" said Lohi.
A leak in Balticconnector, which runs between Estonia and Finland, was detected early on Sunday (October 8) morning. The gas pipeline was then closed.
The case is being investigated as sabotage. Finnish media sources pinned the blame on Russia on Tuesday.
The pipeline damage is situated in Finland's exclusive economic zone, while a broken telecommunications cable was found in Estonia's exclusive economic zone. It is not yet known if the incidents are linked.
The 77-kilometer underwater pipeline connects Paldiski, Estonia and Inkoo, Finland. It was launched in 2020 and construction cost over €300 million.
Editor: Helen Wright