Experts: Russia to set up telecom cable alongside Nord Stream’s gas pipeline in Baltic Sea
Rerouting Russian internet traffic may pose security risk for Finland
Several Finnish experts consider it almost certain that a Russian telecommunication cable will be laid alongside the undersea gas pipeline that is to be set up by Nord Stream in the Baltic Sea.
Such a cable would lead to a considerable decline in the massive volume of Russia’s telecommunications that passes through Finland, and it would effectively grind to a complete halt.
At present, as much as half of Russia’s entire internet communications are carried via Finnish networks.
For Finnish telecommunications operators, the potential transfer of Russian internet communication services from Finland to the Baltic Sea would mean losses amounting to tens of millions of euros, estimates Jorma Mellin, the Chairman of FICIX, the Finnish Communication and Internet Exchange association.
However, the Swiss-based Nord Stream, the company that is to begin the construction of the undersea part of the gas pipeline in April, denies that there are any plans to lay any cables along the pipeline route.
The likely reason for Russia’s wish to transfer its telecommunications into its own territory is Sweden and its FRA law, which entered into force last year.
The new FRA law authorises Sweden to warrantlessly tap all telephone and Internet traffic that crosses the Swedish borders. The cables that carry Russian data communications through Finland also cross go through Sweden.
In Jorma Mellin’s opinion, the transfer of Russian telecommunications away from Finland could pose a serious security risk, as Russia’s dependency on the Finnish telecommunication infrastructure is believed to be a factor protecting Finland against both Russian and international cyber attacks.
If Russia decides to reroute its telecommunications, it will no longer have any motive to protect Finland, or to leave Finland undisturbed.
However, not everybody agrees with this opinion. According to Kari Wirman, the head of Telecommunications Preparedness at the Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics (FiCom), the threat against Finland is growing on the mental level, but not so much that it would have any actual significance.
Experts at the Finnish Defence Forces are also aware of the situation, but they are unwilling to comment on such a politically sensitive issue.
As far as is known, the construction of the undersea part of the gas pipeline extending from near Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany is to begin in April in Swedish waters.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Work on gas pipeline to begin in Gulf of Finland in June (15.2.2010)
Finnish environment officials give go-ahead for undersea gas pipeline (12.2.2010)
Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics (FiCom)
FRA law (Wikipedia)