by James Billot
Wednesday, 26
October 2022
News
10:40

Hybrid attacks on the rise across Europe

Multiple acts of sabotage have taken place on key infrastructure
by James Billot
Norwegian submarines during NATO exercise Dynamic Mongoose, July 2020

Over the last month, a wave of mysterious hybrid attacks have taken place across Europe. It is not clear whether these incidents are related, but the frequency with which they’ve occurred is notable. All have taken place since the Nord Stream pipeline attacks at the end of September, marking Russia out as a suspect — but there is almost no proof either way.

Below is a timeline of all the attacks and arrests that have taken place in the last month:

🇳🇴 25th October 2022, Norway: Brazilian university researcher arrested in northern Norway

Norway’s intelligence services arrested a Brazilian university researcher on suspicion that he is actually a Russian and a spy. The researcher works at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, and has connections with the Grey Zone, a group studying irregular warfare methods like cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns.

To date, four Russians have been arrested for flying drones near critical infrastructure in Norway over the last two weeks. Four others were released from custody after taking pictures near the country’s offshore oil and gas platforms, were released from custody on Friday.

🇫🇷 20th October 2022, France: Damaged fiber optic cables in Marseille

Damaged fiber-optic cables in Marseille

France suffered from widespread internet connectivity problems when at least three fiber optic cables were cut in Marseille, slowing internet access for users in Europe, Asia and the United States. Russian submarines have been blamed, but investigators have yet to find evidence to support this claim. “The people knew what they were doing,” Michel Combot, the managing director of the French Telecoms Federation, said.

Earlier this year, Paris police also investigated the suspected sabotage of fiber optic cables, which disrupted the internet in several regions around France. In ‘an unusual move’, France’s internal intelligence service helped in the investigation, along with the judicial police.

🇬🇧 18th October 2022, UK: Severed undersea cables near Shetland Islands 

The Shetland Islands were effectively cut off from the world after two breaks in a submarine cable were discovered. The SHEFA-2 undersea cable linking the Faroe Islands to mainland Scotland via the Shetland and Orkney Islands was damaged in two separate incidents rendering most of the islands without internet connection. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted that the damage was accidental, even though the probability of two separate incidents occurring at the same time is extremely low. “We expect it will be fishing vessels that damaged the cable but it is very rare that we have two problems at the same time,” Páll Vesturbú, the head of infrastructure for Faroese Telecom stated

🇩🇪 8th October 2022, Germany: Rail traffic in northern Germany disrupted by ‘sabotage’

Newly-laid cable lies next to railway tracks at the spot where technicians repaired a section of fibre optic cable in Berlin. Credit: Getty

‘Cable sabotage’ caused major disruption to the German railway network. German Transport Minister Volker Wissing said essential cables “were deliberately and intentionally severed” in two places.  “It is clear that this was a targeted and deliberate action,” he added, saying the motive was not “yet known”.

🇩🇰 6th October 2022, Denmark: drones reported near North Sea gas fields

Danish police announced that there were sightings of unauthorised drone flights near gas fields in the North Sea, following similar incidents on the Norwegian side. This is the second time in a week that such incidents have occurred. 

Several European countries have responded to these attacks by boosting their defence capabilities. In Scandinavia, Norway is deploying its military to protect oil and gas installations, while Finland’s border guard upped its monitoring of maritime traffic and infrastructure. Denmark also moved to boost protections around energy sites. France, meanwhile, is tightening security over its undersea cables due to fears of an imminent Russia attack. This includes a €3.1 million package for  an “ocean floor” defence, which is currently being debated in Parliament.

Early this year, British chief of defence staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin warned about an increase in Russia’s underwater activity, saying that “Russia has grown the capability to put at threat those undersea cables and potentially exploit those undersea cables.” Although European leaders have avoided accusing Russia over these incidents, NATO issued a warning earlier this month that it would respond to an attack on allies’ key infrastructure.

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Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action” – Goldfinger

Barry Faith
Barry Faith
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

This saying was also utilised in the book, ‘The Kremlin Letter’, which is a very good spy novel.

Liviu Muresan
Liviu Muresan
1 month ago

Pls. read again “Unrestricted Warfare:China’s Master Plan to distroy America” 1999 by Col. Qiao Liang, Wang Xiansui

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
1 month ago

US (with eastern european allies?) did destroy the NS1/NS2 pipeline though, right? No reason for Russia to do this, nor European Gas dependants approaching winter.
Just following the money…and the geo-politics…

N T
N T
1 month ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

i don’t see how sabotaging a shut and not-opening pipeline benefits the us or the nordics. there is no gas flowing, and the europeans said it was not going to be opened. maybe that is not true, and maybe the us wanted to make sure.

Pete 0
Pete 0
1 month ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

Putin has scaled back, or ceased, delivery of gas as punishment to the ‘West’ for their support of Ukraine and has been trying to increase that pressure, however, the constant claims of non-delivery due to ‘maintenance’ was wearing thin.

If the Russians walked away from the contract they would be on the hook for millions in penalty clauses. Because the pipeline was destroyed by ‘unknown’ actors, Russia is not contracttorally obliged to pay any compensation.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

The russian ”mastermind” in action is a sight to behold. One russian caught in the act of sabotage and the game is on.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

Looks like there is competition among underlings to catch Putin’s eye. Success might bring promotion into the kleptoccracy.

Dominic Hyde
Dominic Hyde
1 month ago

If a submarine had entered the baltic via the kattegat nato would know about it. I would hope so anyway.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 month ago

Putin can’t beat the Ukrainians through conventional warfare, so has obviously gone back to sneak attacks and sabotage of the allies, doing to the rest of Europe what he is doing to the Ukraine already – attacking energy and other infrastructures. He cheated at the Olympics, sent assassins into Britain on a couple of occasions and was a fan of Trump – what else can you expect from tricky Dicky (sorry Vlad)?

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 month ago

What a bunch of petty things chosen. If this is Russia and China working to bring down the West they seem pretty tame.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 month ago

And this helps Putin’s war in Ukraine how?
He’s crazy.