New allegations have emerged via the BBC suggesting that Russia has a program to sabotage wind farms and communication cables in the North Sea. The joint investigation by public broadcasters in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland claims that Russia has a fleet of vessels disguised as fishing trawlers and research vessels in the North Sea, carrying underwater surveillance equipment to map key sites for possible sabotage.
The report focuses on a Russian vessel called the Admiral Vladimirsky, which is believed to be a spy ship disguised as an Expeditionary Oceanographic Ship. The documentary uses an anonymous former UK Royal Navy expert to track the movements of the vessel in the vicinity of seven wind farms off the coast of the UK and the Netherlands on one mission.
The report raises concerns about hostile activity against marine infrastructure and communication cables, including a major incident in the Shetland Islands last year where a cable was cut, severely hampering communication with the mainland. While there is evidence of intelligence gathering for potential sabotage, there is limited evidence of actual sabotage so far.
According to the BBC Western countries are likely conducting similar activity against Russia for reconnaissance of sensitive sites, with intentions of having several options available should conflict escalate.
The allegations come amidst rising tensions between Russia and Western countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Nordstream pipeline explosion. Norway expelled 15 Russian officials in April this year for alleged spying, while other European countries have also expelled Russian officials. However, investigations into acts of sabotage such as the destruction of parts of the Nord Stream pipeline designed to carry gas from Russia to Europe last September are ongoing, with some news reports suggesting other possibilities besides Russian involvement.
Sign up for our newsletter