NATO said on Thursday that allies are stepping up patrols in the Baltic Sea following recent damage to undersea infrastructure in the region.
The increased measures include additional surveillance and reconnaissance flights, including with maritime patrol aircraft, NATO AWACS planes, and drones.
Four NATO minehunters are also dispatched to the area.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely, and we remain in close contact with our allies Estonia and Finland, and our partner Sweden,” said acting NATO spokesperson Dylan White. “NATO will continue to adapt its maritime posture in the Baltic Sea and will take all necessary steps to keep allies safe.”
Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said the NATO decision to increase patrols on the Baltic Sea and in the regional air space shows that the allies are vigilant and ready for action, if needed.
“The decision does not mean that there is an increased military threat. Instead, it shows that relations between allies are strong and NATO as a whole sees the protection of critical infrastructure as an important issue,” the Estonian minister said.
Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said that Estonia received confirmation on Thursday that the damage to the underwater infrastructure between Estonia and Finland is likely to be man-made, and an investigation is underway into how the communication cable between Estonia and Sweden was damaged.
“The continuity of Estonia’s critical interconnections is ensured and there is no threat to it. Estonia, Finland and Sweden are working together closely to investigate the incidents in the Baltic Sea, and we keep our NATO allies and partners in the European Union informed of developments. Together with our allies, we have increased our vigilance on what is happening in the Baltic Sea and taken steps to protect critical interconnections in the Baltic Sea. In this context, I welcome NATO’s decision today to send additional patrols to the Baltic Sea, including planes, drones and ships,” the Estonian minister said.
On Thursday evening, NATO announced that a fleet of four NATO minehunters has been dispatched to the region. Two allied minehunters will reach Estonia on Friday.
Since the Nord Stream sabotage in September 2022, NATO has enhanced patrols near critical undersea infrastructure and has promoted technological innovation — including with drones — to better detect any suspicious activity.
Earlier this year, NATO created an undersea infrastructure coordination cell to deepen ties between governments, military, industry actors and NATO, and has since established the NATO Maritime Center for the Security of Critical Undersea Infrastructure within NATO’s Maritime Command.
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