Russian ship 'mapped Dutch wind parks in sabotage plan'

Underwater cables, wind farms and gas pipelines are all under threat, says Dutch intelligence

Power-generating windmill turbines at an offshore wind farm near Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Reuters
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Russia has covertly mapped Dutch infrastructure in the North Sea and appears to be getting ready to carry out "disruption and sabotage activities”, intelligence officials have warned.

Russia had undertaken “activities that indicate espionage as well as preparing operations for disturbance and sabotage” of underwater cables, wind farms and gas pipelines, said the report by Dutch intelligence agencies.

Maj Gen Jan Swillens, head of military intelligence, said a Russian ship was discovered attempting to map Dutch wind parks in the North Sea.

The ship entered Dutch territorial waters "in recent months" but was escorted out by the Dutch coastguard and navy.

"What we have seen in recent months is that Russian actors have been trying to understand how the energy supply in the North Sea is organised, with the intention of disrupting it," he said.

"The attempt was not successful.”

He declined to give further information.

Physical threats to other vital sectors, including drinking water, were also conceivable, the report warned.

The warning comes on the heels of a Saturday decision by the Dutch government to expel 10 Russian diplomats, after accusing Moscow of using diplomatic cover for espionage.

The Netherlands also temporarily shut the consulate-general in St Petersburg.

Maj Gen Swillens and Dutch intelligence services chief Erik Akerboom said the North Sea incident was not connected to the expulsion of the diplomats.

"Despite the outcome of the war in Ukraine, Russia will most likely continue to be a threat to the Netherlands in the long run," the report concluded.

"The Netherlands must take into account that the war in Ukraine and its consequences will probably last for a long time," Maj Gen Swillens said.

"The outcome of this war will determine our future security and prosperity.

"If the West does not maintain unity against Russia, Moscow would probably conclude that aggression pays off," he said.

Updated: February 21, 2023, 8:57 AM