Norway issues warning as Putin’s spies to target critical UK gas

Norway ‘preparing for conflict with Russia’ says expert

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Officials in Norway have warned Russia could be looking to spy on the country’s oil and gas infrastructure, which is critical to the UK’s energy supply. In its annual threat assessment, the country’s police security agency (PST) warned the Kremlin could try to gather more intelligence about Norway’s oil and gas infrastructure, as part of its plan to hamstring European energy supplies. Over the past year, Russian President Vladimir Putin has put the continent’s energy security under strain, by cutting off supplies of gas to the European Union after the bloc issued sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

In its annual review, PST noted that while Moscow is “unlikely” to carry out acts of sabotage on energy infrastructure Norweigian territory this year, they warned that this could change if the conflict between Russia and the West were to escalate.

This assessment is the first conducted by Norway since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago. As the EU and Moscow severed ties, Oslo has quickly risen to become Europe’s largest gas supplier.

In its report, PST said: “Norway’s role as an energy supplier to Europe has assumed even greater security policy importance as a result of the war in Ukraine.”

Fears over an attack have grown exponentially since September last year when a number of leaks were discovered along the 1,234 km-long Nord Stream pipelines between Russia and Germany.

Experts believe that the leaks were an act of sabotage, with many critics pointing towards Russia. While the Kremlin has denied these allegations, it has led Western forces to begin adapting to new threats from undersea, amid fears that their own gas pipelines and undersea cables could be at risk.

Since the leaks, Norway has ramped up security around its oil and gas installations, with its NATO allies stepping in to help protect its pipelines and cables.

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PST said in the report: “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 power sector.

Swedish investigators discovered traces of explosives at the leaking site near the Russian-built Nord Stream pipelines, which bypassed Ukraine and Poland by transmitting gas via the Baltic Sea.

Experts have previously warned that if Russia was responsible for Nord Stream’s leak, it could be sending a message to the West. Meanwhile, if the US is responsible, as recent reports have claimed, then Moscow could seek retaliation against NATO members.

Last week, Kremlin officials issued warnings, after an investigative journalist accused US Navy divers of blowing up the pipelines with explosives.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “The world must find out the truth about who carried out this act of sabotage. This is a very dangerous precedent: if someone did it once, they can do it again anywhere in the world.”

The Russian mouthpiece called for “an open international investigation of this unprecedented attack on international critical infrastructure”, adding: “It is impossible to leave this without uncovering those responsible and punishing them.”

Following this accusation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that Russia is considering what “further steps” should be taken, raising fears that the UK’s energy could now be at risk.

A similar leak to the pipelines connecting the UK and Norway could be catastrophic for Britain, as the country is the UK’s single biggest supplier of gas, responsible for 60 percent of the total gas demand.

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