Norway: Russian man arrested with drones suspected of violating sanctions
Baltic Sea

Norway: Russian man arrested with drones suspected of violating sanctions

A 50-year-old Russian man has been arrested in arctic Norway with two drones and is suspected of flying the UAVs somewhere in the country.

Numerous drone sightings near Norwegian offshore oil and gas platforms have been reported in recent weeks.

The Russian citizen, who has not been identified, was arrested on Tuesday.

Norwegian media reported that customs officials found two drones and several electronic storage devices in his luggage during a routine check at the Storskog border crossing, the only border crossing between NATO member Norway and Russia. Norway’s arctic border with Russia is 198 kilometers long.

He is suspected of violating sanctions that came into effect after Russia went to war with Ukraine, prosecutor Anja Mikkelsen Indbjør told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Under Norwegian law, aircraft operated by Russian companies or citizens are prohibited from “landing on, taking off from or flying over Norwegian territory”. Norway is not a member of the European Union but reflects its movements.

The man’s defense attorney, Jens Bernhard Herstad, told Norwegian daily Dagbladet that his client admitted to flying the drones but refused to say what he was doing in Norway.

Norwegian Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said it was “too early to draw any conclusions”.

“We are aware that we face an intelligence threat that has been compounded by events in Europe,” Enger Mehl told NRK.

Security has increased around key energy, internet and power infrastructure following last month’s underwater explosions that ruptured two natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea being built to deliver Russian gas to Germany.

The blasts and ruptures in the Baltic Sea occurred in international waters off Sweden and Denmark, but within the countries’ exclusive economic zones. The damaged Nord Stream pipelines released huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the air.