Russia has been trying to map Dutch offshore energy networks, the director of the Dutch military intelligence service said on Monday.
Jan Swillens told a press conference that several months ago a Russian ship had been trying to collect details about offshore wind farms. The effort was spotted in time and the ship was led away by the coastguard and navy, Swillens said.
The incident, he said, ‘had made it clear that the threat to the Netherlands is not as far away as thought,’ he said. Russia is also interested in mapping internet cables and gas pipelines, the intelligence service chief said.
Both the MIVD and the domestic security agency AIVD warned last year that the Netherlands’ essential services, such as drinking water, could be a target.
This weekend, foreign affairs minister Wopke Hoekstra confirmed that 10 Russian diplomats would be expelled from the country because they were spies.
The two agencies also said on Monday that the war in Ukraine is functioning as a ‘breeding ground for anti-institutional extremism’.
Extremist groupings in the Netherlands are mainly pro-Russia and see president Vladimir Putin as a ‘liberator’ in the war against the west, the agencies said, adding that this position makes them vulnerable to influence from Russia.
The far right Forum voor Democratie, which has five seats in parliament, is staunchly pro Russia and leader Thierry Baudet has said repeatedly he hopes Russia wins the war.
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