Essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Breitbart; According to a joint investigation by Norwegian journalists, the Russian spy trawlers are back – and this time the are mapping offshore infrastructure, including wind turbine cables.
The spy ships
BETH MØRCH PETTERSEN Journalist
PUBLISHED APR 19 AT 14:00
The radio on board the fishing vessel “Lira” is from the days of the Cold War. In Cyrillic script, it is marked Б3-28.
In the past year, NRK together with the Nordic public broadcasters Danmarks Radio (DR), Sveriges Television (SVT) and Finnish Yle have used open traffic data to map how Russian shipping traffic can be used for espionage in the Nordics. It comes out in the Brennpunkt documentary The Shadow War .
A systematic review of the tracks shows that at least 50 ships for ten years have had the opportunity to collect information in secret.
On the table in front of researcher Ståle Ulriksen at the Naval Academy are dozens of sheets from our mapping. The sheets show the movements of ships we have investigated.
The traces on the maps show that they suddenly appear when there has been a NATO exercise. They were close when important fiber cables were cut off Vesterålen and damaged off Svalbard last year.
May have prepared sabotage
In inland Danish waters, a white government research ship sails near an offshore wind farm. Several sources Danmarks Radio (DR) has spoken to believe that the Russian “Admiral Vladimirsky” is also being used for intelligence work.
According to intelligence sources and experts, a Russian military underwater program, called GUGI, is currently mapping the waters of the Nordic region. They collect information about power and internet cables, offshore wind farms, oil and gas pipelines.
…Read more (Norwegian – Translated using Google): https://www.nrk.no/nordland/xl/fiskebater-og-andre-fartoy-fra-russland-kan-drive-spionasje-og-etterretning-i-norge-1.16371100
I’m not sure what to make of this.
It seems implausible that Russia would have to rely on cold war era espionage equipment to coordinate a spying effort. There are much easier ways to communicate.
Russia has access to much better technology for reconnaissance. China has no problem selling technology to Russia, including standalone GPS, microcontrollers, plugin cellular and satellite communicators, model scale engines, exactly the kind of cheap robot technology you need to build sophisticated and stealthy reconnaissance systems out of consumer electronics. I know because I’ve personally built bespoke data gathering devices for clients out of cheap Chinese consumer electronics.
A one-time pad turns any consumer communication device, even a simple mobile telephone, into an impenetrable spy communicator. If you add Steganography to the one time pad, you could even conceal that a one time pad communication was occurring.
If the ships are deliberately behaving suspiciously, it seems much more likely their activity is a political intimidation exercise, a visible presence thinly disguised as military reconnaissance, a sophisticated attempt to intimidate European nations into muting their opposition to Russian policy objectives.
Or it could all be a giant coicindence. The Norwegians could have been fooled by their own data analysis. If you sift enough ship tracks, you are all but guaranteed to find a bunch of tracks which look suspicious.
Whatever is really happening, one thing we can conclude for sure – offshore wind turbines are looking more vulnerable than ever. People who would cut a gas pipeline, whoever they have, would have no problem sabotaging the cables to an entire fleet of offshore wind farms.