THE HAGUE, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Russia has in recent months tried to gain intelligence to sabotage critical infrastructure in the Dutch part of the North Sea, Dutch military intelligence agency MIVD said on Monday.
A Russian ship has been detected at an offshore wind farm in the North Sea as it tried to map out energy infrastructure, MIVD head General Jan Swillens said at a news conference.
The vessel was escorted out of the North Sea by Dutch marine and coast guard ships before any sabotage effort could become successful, he added.
“We saw in recent months Russian actors tried to uncover how the energy system works in the North Sea. It is the first time we have seen this,” Swillens said.
“Russia is mapping how our wind parks in the North Sea function. They are very interested in how they could sabotage the energy infrastructure.”
Dutch intelligence agencies MIVD and AIVD, in a joint report published on Monday, said critical offshore infrastructure such as internet cables, gas pipes and windmill farms had become the target of Russian sabotage activities.
“Russia is secretly charting this infrastructure and is undertaking activities which indicate preparations for disruption and sabotage”, the agencies said.
Covert threats by Russia to water and energy supplies in the Netherlands were also conceivable, they added.
The Netherlands said on Saturday it would expel an undisclosed number of Russian diplomats as it accused Russia of continuously bringing in spies under diplomatic cover.
It also ordered Russia to close its trade mission in Amsterdam and said it would shut down the Dutch consulate in Saint Petersburg.