Norway Raises Military Alert Level After Drone Sightings Near Norway's Airports, Oil and Gas Fields
EUROPE - Norway has reportedly raised its military alert level after unmanned aerial (UAV) drones were sighted over the last few weeks around Norway's oil and gas fields and airports, which has led to at least seven arrests of Russian citizens as of November 1st, 2022.
Of the Russian citizens arrested for flying drones illegally in Norway, one includes the son of the former Russian Railways CEO Yakunin, according to Norwegian news agency NRK, which reported that the man has since been released after having been accused of illegal filming with a drone.
On October 24th, Norwegian broadcaster TV 2 reported that two Russians were arrested for photographing military facilities in the country.
The report said "In recent weeks citizens with drones have been arrested and detained in Norway" and said due to the sanctions against Russia, it is "not allowed" for "Russian citizens to fly drones on Norwegian territory".
It said that on October 22nd two Russian citizens were arrested and taken into custody. It also said that 'most of the recent arrests have been made in northern Norway, and in all cases, the accused denied criminal guilt and claimed that they were tourists.
At the end of October, there had been multiple sightings of drones hovering around Norway's offshore oil platforms. Aircraft spotters using Flight Radar software spotted drones believed to be Russian near Bergen Flesland Airport.
In response, the Norwegian government made the decision to raise the readiness of its armed forces, seeing the recent string of drone sightings and photographing of sensitive military facilities and areas as possible hostile actions by Russia.
Norway shares a 120-mile-long border with Russia, and the recent incidents have put the country's military on edge as Russia continues its ongoing war in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said at a news conference that although there is no immediate threat to the country, Europe is facing its "most serious security policy situation in decades".
“It is not acceptable for foreign intelligence to fly drones over Norwegian airports. Russians are not allowed to fly drones in Norway.”
“Today, we have no reason to believe that Russia will want to involve Norway or any other country directly in the war. But the war in Ukraine makes it necessary for all NATO countries to be more vigilant,” the Prime Minister stated.
He also stated "The continuation of the war in Ukraine, Russia's attempts at weakening [international] support for Ukraine mean that all countries in Europe must consider that they are exposed to hybrid threats. Including Norway."
As part of the heightened military alert level, some of Norway's military personnel will be spending less time training and putting more focus on "maritime surveillance," according to Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram.
Watching the North Sea, and protecting oil and gas installations “is a high priority,” the Defense Minister said.
He told a TV 2 reporter, “I don’t think people will see big changes due to this [security tightening] in their everyday lives. It revolves around our military apparatus, personnel, and how they set up their operations".
“It will be visible along the coast and at the on-land facilities where there is now a Home Guard presence," he added. "You might also see the military in connection with transfers and exercises… But as I said, I don’t think this will be a very visible element in everyday life."
Norway's Chief of Defense, Gen Eirik Kristoffersen said that the country will be aiming to bring its fleet of American-made P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft into operation faster than it had planned.
Recently, a suspected Russian spy was arrested on Monday by Norwegian authorities in Tromsoe, Norway. Read The Report
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