Norway cracks down on Russian use of drones with seven arrests

Norway’s prime minister has warned his nation will take motion towards international intelligence companies that fly drones over its vital infrastructure, together with oil rigs and airports, after the arrest of seven Russians in possession of the aerial automobiles.

Oslo and different western capitals are on excessive alert after the sabotage of the Nord Stream fuel pipelines between Denmark and Sweden final month and quite a few sightings of drones close to oil and fuel services, energy vegetation and different vital infrastructure.

Norway’s intelligence service stated on Wednesday that it will take over the investigation of the growing quantity of current incidents involving drones. The announcement got here on the identical day because the airport in Bergen, the nation’s second-largest metropolis, was shut down following experiences of drones within the space.

It was additionally disclosed that Norwegian police on Monday arrested a 47-year-old Russian-British twin citizen within the metropolis of Hammerfest accused of flying a drone over the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard. The arrest got here solely days after six Russians have been taken into custody in three separate incidents in Norway involving drones and unauthorised pictures of delicate areas.

“It isn’t acceptable for international intelligence to fly drones over Norwegian airports. Russians should not allowed to fly drones in Norway,” prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre stated on Wednesday.

Norway has changed Russia as the most important fuel provider to Europe after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February upended the continent’s geopolitics and vitality provides.

A number of Norwegian specialists have warned that the rich Nordic nation has been naive concerning the risk to vital infrastructure, comparable to fuel pipelines, after a quantity of current incidents, together with the chopping of an web cable to Svalbard, situated greater than 500km north of the mainland.

The warnings have been heightened since explosions final month beneath the Baltic Sea off Denmark broken the Nord Stream 1 and a pair of pipelines meant to hold fuel between Russia and Germany.

“There was an enormous lack of recognition of how strategically essential Norwegian vitality manufacturing . . . has been for Europe,” Ståle Ulriksen of the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy advised state broadcaster NRK. He added that Norwegian authorities had “naively” ignored espionage warnings from native intelligence providers.

The 47-year-old accused of flying a drone over Svalbard is the son of a Russian businessman who’s a longtime buddy and confidant of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, in keeping with the Barents Observer.

Addressing a commerce union assembly on Wednesday, Støre stated there was no direct risk to Norway however the safety scenario was critical.

“We don’t want anybody to fly this kind of gadget over essential installations in Norway. We are saying no to it and we’re going to pursue it and cease it,” the prime minister added.

Støre careworn that Norway had checked out its nuclear preparedness “from A to Z”, as he referred to as Russia a militarised, radicalised and in some ways totalitarian society.

Final week, a Russian man was held for flying a drone near Tromsø airport within the north of the nation, 4 Russians have been arrested for taking footage of delicate areas and one other was caught making an attempt to go away the nation with a drone.

Russia’s embassy in Oslo accused Norway of hysteria and paranoia in arresting what it referred to as vacationers photographing “the nation’s stunning nature”.

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