Finland and Estonia will definitely clarify the circumstances behind the rupture of the Balticconnector gas pipeline, which runs between the two countries. Once the details have been established, appropriate action will be taken, said Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Jonatan Vseviov.
"I have not the slightest doubt that we will get to know the truth, nor do I have the slightest doubt, in fact, that this pipeline will be repaired and our security assured," Vseviov said on Raadio 2's "Hommik!" program on Monday. Vseviov added that he is confident the details regarding what caused the Balticconnector pipeline to leak last Sunday, will be established.
Vseviov said that he did not want to speculate about what may have happened, but stressed that the current understanding is that the pipe burst as a result of human actions. "What we can say, is that the damage was man-made. There had been a theoretical possibility at the start, that something happened to the pipe itself - well, that can happen. That has now been ruled out, it was man-made. Who the person is and why they did it, is something we are working on in very close cooperation with Finland. We have set up a joint investigation team of competent people, who are working on that," said Vseviov.
"First of all we will identify who is responsible. Then, there are of course two possibilities – either they did it by accident or they did it on purpose. If they did it deliberately, then again, there are two options, either something happened to their mind and they suddenly decided to start breaking things that do not belong to them, or they did it on someone's orders. We will establish the facts and then respond accordingly," Vseviov said. "I have no doubt whatsoever that we will definitely establish the truth of the matter and then respond proportionately, appropriately and together with our allies," he added.
Vseviov also said that he believes establishing the details surrounding the incident will not take long.
"I don't think the investigation will take long, but that will ultimately be determined by those who are conducting the investigation. And then we will proceed on the basis of the knowledge that emerges."
Vseviov stressed, however, that while it is not yet known whether the damage was caused deliberately, it is even less clear that it was part of a national policy.
Once precisely what happened has been established, a response will follow, Vseviov added.
"Our other key objective is to ensure that all those who are watching us and our region see that no matter what caused this pipe to burst, we will respond appropriately, we will respond proportionately and we will respond in concert with our allies to secure our security, not just our undersea infrastructure but our security in general."
Vseviov acknowledged that all infrastructure is vulnerable to attack. Therefore, Estonia's response must be to ensure that doing so does not pay. "We have to recognize that it is always possible to find a gap in our defenses and then attack. The question is, if that attacker is another country, will [such an attack] pay off? And so it's up to us to make sure it doesn't."
According to Vseviov, once the responsible party has been identified, there are also grounds for charging them for the cost of repairing the damage.
"I do believe that if somebody has broken something, then you want the person who broke it to pay for it. However, these things are complicated, but they are not unprecedented. If it was an accident, then accidents like this happen at sea, they have happened before and they will happen in the future. Insurance companies operating at sea have generally taken into account the possibility that accidents will happen and that the damages will have to be compensated," he said.
Vseviov went on to say, that the NATO allies have also publicly expressed their strong support for Estonia and Finland and are monitoring what is happening in our region in terms of security policy.
"Today, we can confirm that there is no direct threat to our security of supply or to the strategic security of our country. But we are of course alert, vigilant, and not alone, nor [operating] in tandem with [only] Finland, but with all our NATO allies," he said.
According to Vseviov, Estonia is coordinating its actions with Finland not only in relation to the investigation of the incident, but also in foreign and defense policy. "We are demonstrating with our actions that we are alert and vigilant, and under no circumstances will there be any trepidation in our steps. We are ready to defend ourselves, we are ready to react appropriately and proportionately, whatever the outcome of the investigation or whatever tomorrow may bring," he said.
Luik: NATO has huge amount of information on what is happening around it
Estonia's Ambassador to NATO Jüri Luik is also quite convinced that the party responsible for rupturing the gas pipeline will be found, referring to the alliance's ability to monitor various movements within its own territory and the territory surrounding it.
"As a member of NATO, the entire NATO territory and the whole territory around NATO is all under very close surveillance, the information that comes in, the information that we know, regarding where troops, or suspicious forces are moving - it's huge. And I'm sure that this investigation, albeit after the fact, will still come to a relatively clear conclusion, whereby we will actually find out precisely who we're dealing with," Luik said on Vikerraadio show "Välistund" on Monday.
According to Luik, triggering Article five of the NATO Treaty, which would require direct military action, is unlikely in this case.
"Rather, the bigger question is how we will be able to avoid this kind of situation in the future, using all the means at NATO's disposal, and they are not exactly small," the ambassador said.
Editor: Michael Cole