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Assuring security and resilience for critical infrastructures in Europe has become a clear priority for both the EU and NATO, after the sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea and the weaponization of energy enforced by Russia.
The EU and NATO have thus decided to step up the existing cooperation and launch the Task Force on Resilience of Critical Infrastructure, in which senior experts from both organizations “will work hand in hand to identify key threats to our critical infrastructure and work on responses”, has stated by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. What happened with the Nord Stream pipelines showed the importance of keeping under constant control every infrastructure that provides oil and gas to the European economies.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one country has become fundamental in providing hydrocarbons to the EU: Norway has in fact replaced the Russian Federation as Europe’s main source of natural gas. The security of all the offshore infrastructures in Norwegian waters is now vital more than ever for European consumers throughout the Continent and the EU energy security, as well as the ones in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. NATO and EU countries are aware of the Russian threat over infrastructures in Northern and Central Europe, as a recent joint investigation by public broadcasters in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland showed that Moscow uses a fleet of vessels disguised as fishing trawlers and research vessels in the North Sea, in order to carry underwater surveillance equipment and mapping key sites for possible sabotage.
Intelligence officers from the Nordic countries confirmed that the Russian plans for sabotage operations are a key feature of the Cremlin’s prospect in case of full conflict with Western countries. The same dynamic has been confirmed by the British authorities, related to Russian spy ships that are supposedly mapping wind farms and key communication cables off the coast of the country. Already in February, the military intelligence from the Netherlands warned about the possibility of activities from Russian vessels, preparing for disruption or sabotage of marine infrastructures in the Dutch waters.
Written by: Francesco Marino