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Russian communications cable also damaged in Gulf of Finland last month

Location of the Russian vessel Spasatel Karev conducting repairs on Rostelecom's Baltika communications cable on Monday. November 6, 2023.
Location of the Russian vessel Spasatel Karev conducting repairs on Rostelecom's Baltika communications cable on Monday. November 6, 2023. Source: Harri Vähäkangas/Yle

A Russian vessel is currently in the Gulf of Finland carrying out repairs on a communications cable owned by Russia's Rostelecom and partly located in Finland's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which was reported to Finland as damaged on October 12, Finland's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment announced Monday.

Following negotiations between the Russian state-owned telecommunications operator and the Finnish ministry, the Russian salvage and rescue vessel Spasatel Karev began repairs on Rostelecom's Baltica cable, an approximately 1,000-kilometer-long communications cable connecting St. Petersburg and the Baltic coastal enclave of Kaliningrad, according to a press release.

The Russian ship is being monitored by a Finnish Coast Guard vessel.

Some 377 and 395 kilometers of the undersea cable are located in the EEZs of Finland and Sweden, respectively.

Rostelecom informed Finland on October 12 that the communications cable within the Finnish EEZ was faulty and that the company intended to carry out repairs on site.

On October 8, just days before Rostelecom informed Finland of the damage sustained by its Baltika communications cable, the Balticconnector gas pipeline and another communications cable connecting Finland and Estonia both sustained damage.

Mikko Hirvi, deputy commander of the Finnish Border Guard's Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District, said that the damage to the Russian cable may be connected to those same events. Nonetheless, he added, no conclusive info is yet available.

"It's possible that this is related to the Balticconnector case," Hirvi said.

Finland's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) recently announced that it had recovered an anchor from the seafloor that very likely damaged the Balticconector gas pipeline.

Estonian Navy also monitoring Russian vessel

The Headquarters of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) announced Monday that the Estonian Navy is likewise monitoring the activity of the Russian salvage and rescue vessel on the Gulf of Finland.

The EML Kindral Kurvits. Source: Headquarters of the Estonian Defense Forces

"As it is the responsibility of the Estonian Navy to establish situational awareness in Estonia's maritime areas, the Estonian Navy's multifunctional pollution control vessel EML Kindral Kurvits is monitoring the activity its potential impact in the vicinity of our seas," the headquarters said in a press release.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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