Russia mapping offshore windfarms, other infrastructure in North Sea: MIVD
Russia has an extensive program likely aimed at sabotaging offshore wind farms, gas pipelines, and power cables in European waters, General Jan Swillens, head of the Dutch military intelligence service MIVD, told RTL Nieuws.
Swillens made this statement ahead of a documentary by Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish public broadcasters airing tonight. They followed a ship, Admiral Vladimirsky, which is registered as a scientific research ship. According to the investigative journalists, the ship sailed the North Sea for a month, slowing down near wind farms and sending information to a Russian navy base. When reporters tried to approach the ship, they were met with a heavily armed crew.
According to Swillens, the Russian operation goes far beyond this one ship. “The Russians do not have one ship, but an entire program that is designed to map the underwater infrastructure, gas pipelines, oil pipelines, and internet cables in particular so that they can act disruptively there,” he told RTL Nieuws.
A few months ago, the MIVD and general intelligence service AIVD announced that they chased a Russian ship away from a Dutch wind farm in the North Sea late last year. According to the intelligence services, the Russians wanted to map “what the Dutch energy supply looks like” to see how they could sabotage it.
“It says something about the interest of the Russians in maritime infrastructure. We are on high alert,” AIVD director Erik Akerboom said at the time. Swillens noted that Russia’s physical and digital sabotage campaign was “the most extensive in history.”
Swillens called for an international response to this Russian espionage program.
On Thursday, the MIVD published its annual report for 2022, warning that China was spying on Dutch companies, knowledge institutions, and scientists on a large scale. Last year, the MIVD discovered several attempts by China to obtain Dutch military technology. “A few weeks ago, we discovered that a Chinese hacker group was trying to penetrate the Dutch government’s network,” Swillens said. “Fortunately, we saw the attack in time.”
According to the MIVD, China is also targeting the Dutch space sector. The MIVD expects China to launch up to 100 satellites annually in the coming years to further expand its military capacity in space. “These are launchers with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communication satellites,” Swillens said. “The result is that this gives them an emphatic military advantage through a better information position.”
The AIVD also warned about China in its annual report earlier this week, calling the country the most significant economic threat to the Netherlands. In response, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Netherlands must stop its “cold war mentality” and fearmongering with the “Chinese threat.”