NewsNATO alerts to Russian threats on North Sea infrastructure

NATO alerts to Russian threats on North Sea infrastructure

Russia is to be laying mines in the North Sea.
Russia is to be laying mines in the North Sea.
Images source: © Getty Images | K Neville
Mateusz Kaluga

30 June 2024 20:54

NATO representatives have expressed concern over Russia's actions in the North Sea. The issue pertains to the potential mining of critical Western infrastructure. Russian ships reportedly performed as many as a thousand suspicious manoeuvres.

According to the British newspaper "The Times," the suspicions are based on data from companies servicing key oil and gas drilling platforms, pipelines, power, and telecommunications cables.

Sabotage on Dutch or Belgian cables was not confirmed, but explosives were found on a British cable at the beginning of the Ukraine crisis - says "The Times" Thomas De Spiegeleer, spokesperson for the Belgian maritime security unit.

Following an investigation, Belgian journalists from De Tijd report that in the last 10 years, over 160 Russian civilian ships have performed 945 suspicious manoeuvres, of which 749 were recorded within 1.6 kilometres of pipelines in the North Sea. Another 72 suspicious activities occurred in the area of power cables, and the remaining 124 were around telecommunications cables.

"Unusual" behaviour of Russian ships

According to the Moscow Times, Russian ships "behaved unusually" while passing through key pipelines and cables in the North Sea. They reportedly slowed down deliberately, which Western journalists said was done for reconnaissance and sabotage.

Russian ships are already suspicious, even if they follow the standard route because every Russian ship, even if it works for a private company, in any case works for the government. Unusual routes do not always raise questions, but it is suspicious if they pass over pipelines and cables - says De Spiegeleer in "The Times".

Cooperation agreement

In April, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands signed an agreement to cooperate on protecting underwater infrastructure from possible Russian attacks.

NATO has become concerned over a possible Russian attack on submarine cables that transmit around 98 percent of global internet data and telephone traffic. Also at risk are pipelines from Norway, which supply natural gas to the continent. Protecting this infrastructure has become a primary defence objective for NATO and European countries since the Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline sabotage in autumn 2022.

See also