Estonia investigating if anchor also damaged communication cable

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and State Prosecuter Triinu Olev.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and State Prosecuter Triinu Olev. Source: Madis Hindre/ERR

The Office of the Prosecutor General is investigating if the communications cable between Estonia and Finland was also damaged by the anchor from the Chinese ship NewNew Polar Bear.

On Tuesday, the Finnish Border Guard said an anchor, likely belonging to the Hong Kong-flagged vessel, had been found near Balticconnector which most likely damaged the gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland.

At an emergency press conference, State Prosecutor Triinu Olev said it has already been established that damage to the communications cable was man-made. It will now try to identify who was behind the act and whether it was intentional.

"Damage on the cable suggests that it has been affected in some way from the outside. And the effects indicate that it is not caused by nature," said Olev.

She said man-made damage has also been found on the telecommunication cable between Estonia and Sweden and if the prosecution receives confirmation of this, then criminal proceedings will be expanded.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), who also participated in the press conference, said the cable between Estonia and Sweden has been repaired.

Kallas said there is reason to believe the damage in both incidents is related.

The NBI said it is difficult to contact the ship or its owners as the damage did not occur in Finnish territorial waters, only in its area of economic interest.

Kallas said that Estonia is also working with the theory that the vessel is involved. "We also emphasize that no version regarding the Estonian communication cables can be confirmed or denied," said Kallas.

Olev said the Estonian side is checking whether damage to the communication cable between Estonia and Finland has been caused by the same anchor. "If this should be the case, we can further decide what role was played by the NewNew Polar Bear," she said.

Both Finland and Estonia have approached China with a will to cooperate, said Kallas.

"We hope that this cooperation will be intensive. If it is caused by this vessel registered in China, China is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which damage to submarine infrastructure should be punishable as a criminal offense, and should therefore be prosecuted by that country accordingly," the prime minister said.

"If it is indeed the case that this version of the investigation is confirmed, we hope to continue to cooperate on the basis of these conventions on the law of the sea," she added.

ERR asked Kallas how China responded to Estonia's request. "In any case, this cooperation could be better and stronger, so that we can identify what happened anyway," answered Kallas.

"We didn't get the kind of contact that Finland or Estonia wanted in order to clarify the matter," said Kallas.

Olev said the goal is to reach the NewNew Polar Bear's team.

Kallas said the damage must be compensated even if it was accidental.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: