Estonian government briefed on undersea cable damage investigation

Communications cables (photo is illustrative).
Communications cables (photo is illustrative). Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

The Estonian government was briefed by security authorities on Thursday regarding the investigation into damage sustained by undersea communications cables in the Baltic Sea this month.

Working together with the Finnish Navy and Estonian Navy, Estonian investigators completed their investigation of the undersea telecommunications cable connecting Estonia and Finland in the early hours of Thursday morning, according to a government press release.

The results thus far indicate that the damage to this cable was manmade. Further investigations will determine whether this is in fact the case, as well as whether the damage was attributable to carelessness or some other reason.

As initial evidence has now been collected from the cable in question, plans for its repair can now be expedited and are hoped to be in place by next week. To date, the cable repair vessel has been of help in pinpointing the site of the damage as well as in gathering evidence.

Although both Estonian and Finnish investigators are aware of vessels that were in the area at the time the damage occurred, efforts to establish any links between them remains ongoing, and it is yet too soon to indicate a culprit. Likewise it has not been confirmed that the damage was deliberate and intended to impair critical infrastructure.

Damage to another undersea cable between Estonia and Sweden is being examined as part of the same investigation, as initial data there suggests that this damage may have been manmade as well. This remains to be determined in the course of further investigation, however.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) thanked the Estonian and Finnish experts and investigators for their efforts.

"They have worked incredibly hard out at sea over the last three days," Kallas highlighted. "I have full trust in them to ascertain the truth of the situation."

Throughout these events, the operation of Estonia's communications services has remained ensured to the fullest extent, the government said, noting that other cables can be utilized in the event that an undersea cable is damaged, including alternative undersea cables and ground cables running between Estonia and Latvia.

The country has nine different connections backing the uninterrupted operation of its communications services, including seven undersea and two ground cables.

Gas pipeline, communications cables damaged

On Sunday, October 8, the 77-kilometer Balticconnector gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia experienced a sudden drop in pressure, which experts believe could only be attributed to a leak. Investigations also turned up damage to a data cable belonging to Finnish telecommunications company Elisa.

The two incidents are being investigated as sabotage, and although it has not yet been determined whether they are connected, evidence in a joint Finnish-Estonian investigation so far suggests that the damage sustained by the communications cable was man-made, the Office of the Prosecutor General said Thursday.

Earlier this week, Stockholm reported that a fault was discovered on a cable between Estonia and Sweden as well. According to Estonia's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, preliminary information suggests that this is nonetheless connected to the other two cases.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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