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Russian civilian vessels suspected of spying on North Sea infrastructure

Russian civilian vessels suspected of spying on North Sea infrastructure

Belgium Europe Fleet Reconnaissance Russia Russian aggression World

According to Belgium’s security and intelligence services, Russian civilian vessels are spying on North Sea infrastructure.

The Belgian newspaper De Tijd reported about this on the basis of a study conducted jointly with Follow the Money (FTM).

According to the study, non-military Russian vessels have been spying on pipelines and cables in the North Sea for years, and this is happening on a much larger scale than previously known.

According to the publications, over the past ten years alone, 167 civilian Russian vessels have committed 945 suspicious acts near critical infrastructure in the North Sea.

Патрульний корабель HMS Tyne (P281) Королівського ВМФ Великої Британії

Research vessels, cargo ships, reefer ships, tankers, fishing boats, and even passenger vehicles participated in the event.

“Deviations from the voyage plans do not necessarily arouse suspicion. On the contrary, it happens very often, even with non-Russian vessels,” Thomas De Spiegeleire, spokesman for the Directorate General of Shipping, told De Tijd.

“But it’s suspicious if it happens over pipelines and cables,” he added.

The “suspicious actions” occurred in the economic zones of the North Sea countries, including the economic zones of Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Norway.

Russian vessels always came within a kilometer of the pipes and cables and stayed there.

“It is absolutely true that our subsea infrastructure has not been properly monitored for years. Until recently, it was never a security priority,” De Spiegeleire admitted. “We never thought that these pipes and cables could be sabotaged.”

He added that the military had been more attentive to this since 2019, and had become especially concerned after the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in 2022, which runs through the Baltic Sea.

Russia has used civilian vessels for reconnaissance before, but the last time it was recorded was during the Cold War.

Belgium Europe Fleet Reconnaissance Russia Russian aggression World