Dutch intelligence warns of threat of Russian sabotage of energy infrastructure
Dutch intelligence services have warned that Russia is "covertly mapping" key energy infrastructure in the North Sea, in preparation for possible sabotage attacks.
A report released by intelligence agencies AIVD and MIVD has warned that "vital marine infrastructure" could be at risk of sabotage, and that Moscow is carrying out "activities that indicate espionage and acts to prepare for disruption and sabotage."
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Norwegian police issued a similar warning earlier this month, noting that while Russia was "unlikely " to undertake sabotage attempts on Norwegian territory this year, it may be prepared to do so if its conflict with NATO and the West escalates.
Norway is now the biggest supplier of natural gas to Europe, following a drastic reduction in Russian pipeline flow over the past year.
MIVD director Jan Swillens told a news conference on February 20 that Russia was "very interested in how they could sabotage the energy infrastructure," adding that a Russian ship had been spotted near an offshore wind farm.
"We saw in recent months Russian actors tried to uncover how the energy system works in the North Sea. It is the first time we have seen this," Swillens was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The Dutch report also stresses that undersea internal cables were also vulnerable to sabotage, adding that "a physical threat towards other vital sectors, such as drinking supply and energy supply, is also conceivable, as long as such attacks can be carried out covertly."
Various EU and NATO countries have beefed up security to protect critical infrastructure in the wake of suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in late September, which effectively rendered it impossible for Germany to receive Russian gas. Moscow has accused the US of blowing up the pipelines – a claim that Washington has denied.
NATO announced last week that it was creating a new "critical undersea infrastructure coordination cell" at its Brussels headquarters so that militaries and civilian infrastructure operators can cooperate more closely to defend critical infrastructure.