The Norwegian TV series of 2015 “Busy” has what will strike viewers today as an upside-down premise. In the fictional series, Russia invades Norway on behalf of the European Union to restore oil and gas production halted by Norway’s new environmentally conscious government. Despite its strange premise, I found the series to be an engrossing drama when I watched it a few years ago.
At that time, the real Russian government was outraged by the suggestion that Russia would ever have designs on Norwegian sovereignty. In A declaration the Russian government said: “It is certainly regrettable that in the year when the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Second World War is celebrated, the creators of the series have decided to scare Norwegian viewers with a non-existent threat of the East in the Worst Cold War Traditions.
Fast forward to today and the Norwegians have plenty to worry about. As the biggest supplier of natural gas to an energy-starved Europe, the Norwegians now see themselves as a prime target for Russian sabotage of the country’s oil and gas infrastructure. as suspected Russian drones visit Norwegian offshore production platforms.
This follows explosions that ruptured two large gas pipelines from Russia to Germany called Nord Stream 1 and 2. Germany was under pressure from the United States to refuse Russian gas from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline long before the Russian-Ukrainian conflict broke out. After the start of the conflict, the German government has announced that it will not issue permits for the operation of the gas pipeline.
Although this decision did not affect deliveries via Nord Stream 1, problems soon arose when each side accused the other of taking actions that reduced deliveries via Nord Stream 1 to bomb the pipelines (see here and here), Germany will no longer be able to change its mind about Russian gas.
Enter the Norwegians who have long supplied natural gas to Europe. Norway’s small population makes relatively little use of the country’s produced oil and gas. So most of its production is exported and most of it goes to Europe, especially natural gas. In 2021, Norway supplied 23% of the gas supply of the European Union and the United Kingdom combined. This percentage is now higher because Norway has increased its production following the decline in Russian gas exports to Europe. And, of course, as Russia’s percentage of European consumption fell, Norway’s rose, although we won’t know exactly how much until recent deliveries are tallied.
But the increase in Norwegian production cannot compensate for the loss of so much Russian gas in such a short time. Russian supplies previously provided 40% of EU consumption according to the International Energy Agency. Thus, Europe faces a difficult winter without access to Russian gas except for that which is still imported by southern Europe via the Turk Stream Gas Pipeline.
Now that Russia has lost most of its clout against Europe over natural gas supplies, Europe is gearing up for what it believes will be a war on its infrastructure to further cripple the continent and Europe. oblige, as well as Ukraine, which now depends almost entirely on NATO countries for arms and economic support – to the negotiating table to agree to terms favorable to Russia.
A first Russian salvo in the infrastructure war within NATO may have been the sabotage of communication cables essential to the operation of German trains in October, which largely disrupted train travel across the country. Recently, drones of unknown origin have been spotted buzzing at offshore production platforms along the Norwegian coast. Airports, an oil refinery and a gas terminal have been closed in response. Police have arrested seven Russian nationals carrying or flying drones over Norwegian territory. A researcher believes that the Russians are announcing that the Russian military can access Norwegian infrastructure at any time. The lights of some drones were on and that may mean the Russians wanted the drones spotted, the researcher said.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, Russia demonstrates what infrastructure destruction can do. By removing key electrical infrastructure and water supply systems, the Russian military has deprived Ukraine of much of its electricity and drinking water. Without electricity, Ukrainians not only lose the ability to light their homes and businesses, but also the ability to pump fuel, electrically start natural gas furnaces and stoves, and pump water and sewage.
If the Russian military continues to succeed in destroying such infrastructure, it will likely create a large humanitarian and refugee crisis, as Ukrainians unable to get enough water or heat are forced to leave the country just to survive during the war. ‘winter.
At present, the Ukrainian military is unable to reach far inside Russia to destroy its infrastructure in retaliation. And, of course, if NATO were to provide such a capability to Ukraine or join the war and carry out such strikes itself, the Russian government has said it would not rule out nuclear retaliation.
With the Russian military locked in a conflict that Ukraine and NATO say will not end until Russian soldiers withdraw behind pre-conflict borders, Russia’s war on infrastructure seems designed to create a situation so dangerous and horrific that all parties will seek a settlement as fears of nuclear war mount.
My personal view is that Russia has consistently underestimated Ukraine’s and NATO’s resolve, just as Ukraine and NATO have underestimated Russia’s resolve. This suggests further escalation and increased likelihood of miscalculation leading to a nuclear exchange.
Photo: Allseas Solitaire, in 2017 the second largest pipelay vessel in the world. Photo courtesy of PR Allseas via Wikimedia Commons Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Allseas%27_Solitaire,_pijplegschip.jpg