UK and Norway to boost undersea energy protection over Russia sabotage fears

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UK and Norway to boost undersea energy protection over Russia sabotage fears
Britain's Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace photographed during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on May 17th, 2023. Photo by: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

Britain and Norway's defence ministers on Thursday agreed to develop a strategic partnership to protect critical energy undersea infrastructure amid fears of possible Russian sabotage.


The EU last year said leaks in two major gas pipelines from Russia to Europe had been caused by sabotage but stopped short of explicitly accusing the Kremlin.

The UK's defence ministry said the growing use of the seabed for energy and communication purposes had "resulted in increased opportunities for adversaries to threaten" Western undersea infrastructure.

Signing a statement of agreement with Norway, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Russia had "without doubt" the "intent and the capability to target the West's critical infrastructure" through submarines and "spy ships".

"We have to have the intent and the capability to defend it," he told reporters.

His Norwegian counterpart Bjorn Arild Gram said the UK was Norway's "most important European ally" adding that "Russia's war against Ukraine has brought us even closer together".

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he said, it was "important for democracies to stand together when the rule-based international order is under pressure".


"The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines last year is a clear reminder of what is at stake here," he added while on a visit to the UK's Maritime Operations Centre near London.

"By working together, we can improve our ability to detect submarines, to counter mine threats and to protect critical infrastructure on the seabed," he said.


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