The Norwegian fear of potential Russian attacks

It all started with explosions leading to major leaks in the gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2, located in the Baltic Sea. For a month now, fingers have been pointing to Russia for sabotage, as those lines connect Russia to Germany, and Norway has uneasily revisited its security protocols concerning its oil and gas platforms and networks.

It is quite an essential question these days, especially now that Norway has become the largest supplier of gas to Europe because of the Russian attack on Ukraine. The energy crisis already makes things look quite bad for the winter, so just imagine it getting way worse. We’re talking energy outages, restrictions and prices off the roof.

Norway’s extensive network of gas pipelines.
Picture by OED/Norsk Petroleum.

On the online media News In English, I read that Jakub M Godzimirski, expert from the Norwegian foreign policy institute, told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that: « What would be next on the list to damage the European energy market? Then Norway is a prime target […] Damaging Norwegian energy infrastructure would have a major effect. I think and hope that Norwegian authorities are acting accordingly in this situation. » In other words, the damages done to Nord Stream 1 and 2 could be a warning, and the Norwegian government must act accordingly. Which, I think, is currently happening.

The Home Guard, to translate the local volunteer reservists, is starting to get involved as number of troops have already been sent to survey diverse oil and gas platforms all over Norway. More air control is applied, and attention on the Norwegian-Russian border is growing.

But all that increased security concerns have not prevented numerous spotting of drones for the last two weeks, including in the airspace of Bergen, Førde, Stavanger, Haugesund and Tromsø airports, as well as around oil and gas installations in the North Sea. Furthermore, on the 19th of October, a Russian citizen believed to be a friend of one of Putin’s close associates has been charged with flying drones in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard! Another Russian man has been arrested for flying a drone in Ullensvang county, although it is not clear what he was trying to film at the time.

An article from the local newspaper Bergens Tidende describes where the drones have been spotted over the last few weeks.

In response, the government is trying its best but it’s a very new situation and modus operandi for Norway, that doesn’t have yet a protocol put in place in case of drones in critical areas such as airports and oil and gas facilities. Increased vigilance is the only tool those zones have been given while they are waiting for clear measures to take in case of threat or physical danger.

For now, everything is quite confused as it i hard to establish the provenance and the goal of such drones. It could be a sick joke, it could be a threat, it could lead to real devastating results or just make us shake as the winter comes. All I know is that Norway is getting ready to face such threats, and it’s the first time I feel the safe and peaceful country I live in could face danger.

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