STOCKHOLM, December 5. /TASS/. The Finnish naval and coast guard forces hold joint military drills on December 4-5 with the United Kingdom and Estonia in the Baltic Sea region on the protection of undersea infrastructure, the Finnish Defense Forces said in a statement.
According to the statement, "The aim of the exercise is to develop the capability for the surveillance and protection of undersea infrastructure and to repel undersea military threats."
"The exercise is part of the Joint Expeditionary Force [JEF] Statement on 28 November 2023 to increase JEF presence and surveillance in the Baltic Sea Region," the statement reads. "The exercise includes the Finnish Navy, the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District of the Finnish Border Guard, the Royal Navy and the Estonian Navy."
The Defense Command Assistant Chief of Operations, Commodore Janne Huusko, stated that NATO’s increased naval presence was a measure to strengthen "the surveillance and protection of undersea infrastructure."
"After the Balticconnector incident, many countries of the Baltic Sea region have increased their cooperation and their own national maritime surveillance operations," the statement quoted Huusko as saying. "This exercise is one message of how we are able to protect and conduct surveillance on critical infrastructure together with our allies and partners."
Earlier, the operation of the underwater gas pipeline Balticconnector between Finland and Estonia was suspended due to a suspected leak. The Finnish authorities said at a press conference on October 10 that it was not ruled out that the damage to the gas pipeline revealed on October 9 could have been the result of external activity.
The Balticconnector pipeline connects the gas systems of Finland and Estonia. Its total length is 151 km, including 77 km along the bottom of the Gulf of Finland. The underwater part stretches between the city of Inkoo (Uusimaa region, southern part of Finland) and Paldiski (Harjumaa county, northern part of Estonia). The pipeline’s capacity is 2.6 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Gas runs through a single pipe both in the northern and southern directions.