Mysterious Russian research vessel near Balticconnector in June

Gulf of Finland.
Gulf of Finland. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

In early June satellite imagery, the Norwegian firm Vake reportedly identified the enigmatic Russian surveillance vessel Admiral Vladimirski in the vicinity of the Balticconnector, Helsingin Sanomat reports.

Admiral Vladimirski is a Russian oceanographic research ship built in 1975 that has been described as a spy ship in the media since 2022. Even before the Balticconnector incident, the media reported that Russia was secretly mapping critical infrastructure in the North Sea.

Satellite imagery now shows that Admiral Vladimirski was about 13 kilometers from the gas pipeline in early June. There is also an eyewitness account and photographs of a vessel resembling the Admiral Vladimirski. This ship sailed in the area between Inkoo and Paldiski on June 2. During the next week and a half, Admiral Vladimirski moved further south into the Baltic Sea, Helsingin Sanomat wrote.

Sibiryakov, another Russian research vessel, was near the Balticconnector in June (also in August and September), in addition to the Admiral Vladimirski.

It is now known that at least two Russian research vessels have passed between Finland and Estonia. There have been allegations in the media that such Russian vessels are collecting data that can then be used to sabotage critical infrastructure.

The problem is with so-called ghost ships, as their transmitters are switched off. Norwegian business Vake is developing ghost ship detection technology. The company serves private and government clients. Vake detects ghost ships using satellite imagery and modern technology.

Helsingin Sanomat said that Russia has a military unit that can sabotage underwater infrastructure. The Russian special sabotage unit is called GUGI, an abbreviation of the main directorate of deep-sea research, essentially, an agency belonging to the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

The Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland leaked on the seabed on October 8. Also, two communication cables to Sweden and Finland broke down. Finnish authorities are investigating the gas pipeline break in Finnish seas, while Estonian authorities are investigating the damaged cables.

Finland lifted an anchor from the bottom of the sea recently, which most likely damaged a gas pipeline connecting Finland and Estonia.


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Editor: Karl Kivil, Kristina Kersa

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