Latvia ready to assist Estonia and Finland if needed over pipeline damage

Latvian officials said they were ready to provide any necessary assistance to NATO allies Estonia and Finland if required, amid suspicions that Russia may have intentionally damaged an undersea pipeline and cable between the two countries.

The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) told a press conference in Helsinki on Wednesday that "an external force" was suspected of having damaged the Balticconnector gas pipeline.

Inevitably, Russia must be the number one suspect, though officials have bee at pains not to point the finger until evidence has been collected.

Balticconnector is part of a regional gas infrastructure network that includes the giant Inčukalns storage facility in Latvia, which acts as a regional storage hub. At present, the Inčukalns Underground Gas Storage facility (UGS) has total reserves of more than 21.4 TWh, which is sufficient to supply Latvia during the winter period. The injection season at Inčukalns UGS continues until 14 October. 

Prime Minister Evika Siliņa said she had spoken with her Estonian counterpart, Kaja Kallas, about the incident.

Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš offered a similar message.

For full coverage of the incident, we recommend following our colleagues at ERR News in Estonia and YLE in Finland. 

According to YLE, Finnish officials on Wednesday said it was not likely the damage to a pipeline between Finland and Estonia was caused by an explosion, but noted the line had been physically damaged.

The NBI's chief inspector, Risto Lohi, said investigators are not speculating about the case, but rather working to find answers.

"At the moment we are determining what happened and [who] may have been involved. Considering the situation we will not speculate, but work to find facts, analyse them and then draw conclusions about what caused the damage," Lohi said.

"The damage appears to have been caused by a mechanical force, not an explosion, " he said, noting that investigators have not entirely ruled out the possibility of an explosion.

"At the moment we do not think it is likely, but we are analysing the collected evidence," Lohi said.



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