Ten northern European countries agreed to deploy vessels and planes across the Baltic Sea region to protect critical undersea infrastructure in response to last month’s suspected acts of sabotage.
The defence ministers of the Joint Expeditionary Force agreed on Tuesday to activate a “response option” for the first time, according to a statement by the UK government.
The countries will use unspecified “maritime and air capabilities” to “ensure a security presence” in the area, where two subsea natural gas pipelines have been damaged since the autumn of 2022.
The move “provides a tangible demonstration of the JEF as a credible contributor to security in Northern Europe and a powerful message of our ability and commitment to bolstering the security of our critical undersea infrastructure and deterrence of hybrid threats,” according to the statement.
The move comes as Finland, Estonia and Sweden are investigating incidents on an undersea gas pipeline and two communication cables in the Gulf of Finland as acts of sabotage, with vessels registered under Hong Kong and Russia being probed as part of the events.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has also pledged a response if the incident is found to be a deliberate attack on its critical infrastructure.
The Joint Expeditionary Force is a UK-led defence cooperation framework that also encompasses the Nordic and Baltic nations and the Netherlands.