Finland’s Minister of European Affairs, Anders Adlercreutz, has cast a shadow of doubt over the innocence of a Chinese container ship in the damaging of the Balticconnector gas pipeline. This critical infrastructure, lying beneath the Baltic Sea and connecting Estonia and Finland, both NATO members, suffered significant damage around October 7-8, raising serious security concerns.
The Finnish authorities have zeroed in on the Chinese container ship Newnew Polar Bear as the prime suspect. This vessel is believed to have dragged its massive 6,000-kilogram anchor across the seabed of the Baltic Sea, severing not only the gas pipeline but also two crucial telecom cables. The proximity of the retrieved anchor to the site of the damage only deepens the mystery.
Finland, alongside Estonia, has been proactive in seeking cooperation from the Chinese authorities for a thorough investigation. The request to send representatives to Beijing for examining the vessel, which is en route to a Chinese port, speaks volumes about the gravity of the situation. Adlercreutz’s remark about the unlikelihood of a captain returning to China after committing an act disapproved by the Chinese government adds a layer of intrigue to the whole scenario.
This incident mirrors concerns raised by the damage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Russia to Germany over a year ago. Those explosions, which remain a mystery despite international investigations, underscore the vulnerability of undersea critical infrastructure to external sabotage.
President Sauli Niinisto of Finland has been forthright in demanding access to the NewNew Polar Bear. The ambiguity surrounding whether the ship dragged its anchor deliberately or due to navigational incompetence adds to the urgency for an onboard investigation. The damage, marked by extensive drag marks on the seafloor, not only disrupted the Balticconnector gas pipeline but also affected data cables, one of which belonged to Russia.
NATO’s response has been to fortify its presence in the Baltic Sea, with increased patrols, deployment of planes and minehunters, and the Joint Expeditionary Force deciding to deploy additional warships and planes to safeguard critical undersea infrastructure.
As the vessel makes its way to Tianjin, China, the world awaits further details. Whether this was a case of deliberate sabotage or an unfortunate maritime error remains to be seen, but the implications of this incident are far-reaching, touching on issues of international security, naval competency, and the delicate balance of power in a globally connected world.
In the unlikely circumstance that it was an accident, look for the captain and companies to disappear per the longstanding CCP tradition. But accidents like this do not happen. How can a ship not know that its anchor is dragging behind it? More likely it was China executing its agenda with weak buy plausible denial.