Norway has published a collection of videos showing Russian attack submarines and aircraft operating near a network of undersea pipelines bringing enormous amounts of natural gas to Europe and telecommunication cables connecting Europe and America.
The videos, which the Royal Norwegian Air Force provided exclusively to NBC News, show what it believes to be an increasing Russian threat in the Arctic. One video shows the periscope of a Russian nuclear submarine peeking out of the water.
The videos provided to NBC News also show the latest Yasen-class attack submarines and the Borei-class submarine that can house 16 nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. Furthermore, the Tupolev TU-142 and Ilyushin II-38 surveillance planes can also be seen in the imagery.
Royal Norwegian Navy head, Rear Adm. Rune Andersen, said, “We’ve seen increased military activity around Norway in the High North, in the North Atlantic.”
Andersen stated they had spotted Russian submarines operating differently than they did ten years ago. However, he did not specify how much Russian activity had grown over the past year.
"Exclusive video from the Norwegian Air Force shows what it says is a Russian nuclear submarine’s periscope peeking above the water right over Norway’s oil and gas pipelines located in the North Sea."https://t.co/6rlkfLiY8g pic.twitter.com/KyVMEaE3JL
— Massimo Frantarelli (@MrFrantarelli) March 24, 2023
In addition to the increase in Russian patrols, Andersen noted that the Russians’ behavior also has changed. He further mentioned that some Russian submarines are “operating more unpredictably,” and some maneuvers appear “more aggressive.”
The increase in military activities could be associated with a rise in hostilities between NATO and Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Due to a sharp decline in Russian gas exports to Europe, Norway has replaced Russia as the continent’s biggest natural gas supplier.
Furthermore, Norway has increased security for the extensive network of pipelines and communication cables off its coast with the support of its NATO allies in the wake of a mysterious attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline connecting Germany and Russia last year.
Russia’s military has experienced significant setbacks in Ukraine, and Western officials claim that logistical and moral issues still beset it.
Yet, according to Andersen, a significant portion of Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet is stationed at its military base in Murmansk, which is close to Norway.
He explained, “The submarines and the maritime and air capabilities of the (Russian) northern fleet… they’re largely unaffected by the war in Ukraine. It’s still intact.”
Russia’s Increased Suspicious Activities
Russia has invested significantly in its submarine fleet, making the vessels more deadly and quiet. According to military analysts, smaller submersibles can be employed to sabotage cables or pipelines beneath the ocean’s surface.
Norwegian officers believe that Russian submarines, ships, and planes in the area appear to be watching the gas pipelines. Meanwhile, unusual sightings and events raise concerns about Russian surveillance and activity.
The report mentioned that Russian fishing trawlers frequently go dark by switching off their navigational transmitters, and they have an unusually large number of antennas, raising suspicions.
According to Ian Brzezinski of the Atlantic Council think tank, Norway and its NATO allies must exercise caution given Russia’s history of allegedly sabotaging and retaliation outside its borders, including cyberattacks and more deadly operations.
In recent months, drones have been hovering over airports, petrol facilities, and other infrastructure throughout Norway. In October, Norwegian police investigated complaints of a drone hovering above the Karsto gas plant in southwest Norway.
The Norwegian government has not revealed who it believes is responsible for the drone flights. In 2021, underwater sensors that enable Norway to monitor submarines were disabled.
In a mysterious incident in 2022, a fiber optic cable connecting the Norwegian mainland to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard was rendered inoperable.
Following the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage in September 2022, the EU and NATO are establishing a new task force to protect critical infrastructure. The alliance has also sent more ships to the region.
On March 24, the Kremlin stated that it was critical to identify an object found near a Nord Stream pipeline and that the ongoing inquiry into the blasts that damaged the pipelines in September required complete transparency.
The attack on the Nord Stream pipeline, which destroyed three of its four pipelines 260 feet beneath the ocean, is still under investigation. The governments of Germany, Sweden, and Denmark are looking into the matter, but no findings have been made public.