Following the sabotage of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, Norway and other countries are moving to secure critical infrastructure. Since then, drone sightings have been reported in Norway’s vast offshore oil and gas fields, as well as in Norwegian airports.
On Wednesday, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gar Stoor accused “foreign intelligence services” and indirectly blamed Russia. “Foreign intelligence services flying drones over Norwegian airports is unacceptable. According to Norwegian broadcaster NRK, Russians are not allowed to fly drones in Norway,” he said. Told.
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Offshore oil and gas installations are central to the Norwegian economy. Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the country has become an important supplier to energy-starved Europe.
Stoor said hours after the drone was spotted near the airport in Bergen, the country’s second most populous city, it temporarily cut off air traffic.
Authorities also said a Russian-British dual citizen had been arrested on suspicion of flying a drone over Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.
The man, Andrei Yakunin, 47, is the son of Vladimir Yakunin, former president of Russian Railways and a close friend of President Putin. Elder Yakunin was sanctioned by the United States following Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.
When young Yakunin was arrested, police also seized a drone and electronic equipment, police prosecutor Anja Mikkelsen Indjol told the Barents Observer. “Content from drones is very important to this case.”
Andrei Yakunin, who was featured in a Financial Times article about going skiing in Norway’s remote Arctic on an 88-foot sailing yacht, reportedly asked the court to consider him a British citizen. .
His attorney, John Christian Elden, said in an email that his client is a British citizen who has studied, worked and has a family in the UK.
Mr Elden did not deny that Mr Yakunin had piloted the drone, but said it was illegal for Russian citizens, not British citizens.
Yakunin was arrested about a week after Norwegian police detained a Russian man for flying a drone over an airport in Tromso, northern Norway. On Friday, authorities seized a “large amount” of filming equipment, including drones and memory cards. Police also found photos of the airport and a Norwegian military helicopter in Kirkenes, a Norwegian town near the Russian border.
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A 50-year-old Russian man was detained on the same day after being found in possession of two drones and multiple electronic storage devices at the Norwegian border with Russia, according to the Associated Press. Days later, four other Russians were detained for taking pictures in places where photography was not permitted, according to Norwegian authorities.
Norwegian officials say the risk of an attack on critical infrastructure has increased but is low overall, and that the purpose of the drones may be to create fear.