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According to Dutch intelligence services, critical energy infrastructure in the Dutch sector of the North Sea could be vulnerable to Russian sabotage. The are of concern include vital gas pipelines and offshore wind farms.
A report by the Dutch intelligence agencies AIVD and MIVD said in a report this week that Russia has been covertly mapping the infrastructure in the region and has been conducting activities that are characteristic of espionage and indicated that Moscow might be preparing to cause a disruption of service or sabotage to Dutch energy infrastructure
General Jan Swillens, the head of the MIVD military intelligence in the Netherlands, said that the Dutch coast guard had recently escorted a Russian ship out of its waters in the North Sea after the vessel was detected attempting to map an offshore wind farm.
“Russia is mapping how our wind parks in the North Sea function They are very interested in how they could sabotage the energy infrastructure,” Swillens said.
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Also included in the report were conceivable threats to the Netherlands’ energy supply and drinking water.
The Dutch government has also been dealing with Russian spies and has said that it would expel numerous Russian diplomats as Moscow keeps sending spies to the Netherlands under the cover of diplomacy.
The Netherlands is not the only European country that has been concerned about its infrastructure since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago. Fellow NATO member, Norway, has been on high alert for possible sabotage since the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea were sabotaged in the fall of 2022. In addition to the pipeline sabotage, drones were also detected near the energy infrastructure of Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer.
In September, after several unidentified drones and other aircraft were detected close to offshore energy infrastructure, Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) urged heightened vigilance by all vessel owners and operators working on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
A week after the warning was issued, Norway deployed soldiers from its Home Guard to protect Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer. Other Scandinavian countries in the region also increased security measures after the Nord Stream sabotage.
Last week, the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) released its first annual National Threat Assessment report since the start of the Ukraine war and said, “Several countries’ intelligence services operate on Norwegian territory In PST’s opinion, Russian intelligence services will pose the greatest threat to Norway this year.”
“It is unlikely that Russia will carry out an act of sabotage on Norwegian territory in 2023. However, acts of sabotage could become a more relevant scenario if Russia’s willingness to escalate the conflict with NATO and the West were to increase,” the report added.
The PST suspects that the Russian intelligence agencies will need new military and political intelligence pertaining to the consequences of NATO’s expansion in the Nordic region.
The PST report continued, “Further, Norway’s role as an energy supplier to Europe has assumed even greater security policy importance as a result of the war in Ukraine.”
Norway provides more than 25% of natural gas for Europe and surpassed Russia as the top provider after the Kremlin cut off the Russian pipeline supply to much of Europe last year after the invasion Norway has also become a key player in the EU’s energy crisis as it is a NATO member and close ally of the EU and much of Europe has been turning to allies for gas and oil resources rather than to Russia since the war with Ukraine began.
“Over the past year, we have seen the emergence of Russian ambitions to exert pressure on European energy security. PST therefore expects that in 2023, Russia will try to gather intelligence about most aspects of Norway’s oil, gas, and energy sector,” the PST report concluded.
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Looking for revenge for NS2 in which Norway participated
Tit for tat. Take out Norway’s gas pipelines.