Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store blamed “foreign intelligence” services for being responsible for a recent spate of “unacceptable” drone flights in the country, indirectly accusing Russia, France24 reported.
Photo: Thomas Nilsen, thebarentsobserver.com
The son of a close personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin was arrested earlier by Norwegian police on suspicion of illegally using a drone in the geopolitically significant Arctic region’s Svalbard island.
He was the seventh Russian detained in recent days on suspicion of using drones or shooting pictures in prohibited locations in the Scandinavian nation, which shares a northern border with Russia.
Mr. Store told the Norwegian public radio NRK, “It is wrong for foreign intelligence to operate drones over Norwegian airports.
His comments were made just hours after a drone was spotted close to Bergen Airport, the second-largest city in Norway, briefly pausing aviation traffic.
Norway, along with several other Western countries, has banned Russians and Russian businesses from flying over its territory as a result of Moscow’s drone or aircraft invasion of Ukraine.
Unauthorized photography can result in a one-year penalty while violating that ban carries a three-year jail term.
Extreme warnings in Norway
In recent weeks, Norway has seen a series of inexplicable drone flights.
The findings, when combined with the suspected sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea, have caused Oslo to increase security around vital infrastructure, especially its offshore oil and gas facilities.
The most recent Russian detained in Norway has been named Andrei Yakunin, the son of Vladimir Yakunin, the former head of the Russian Railways and a man seen as close to Putin.
According to police and court records, Andrei Yakunin, 47, was detained on Monday, October 17, in Hammerfest in northern Norway. He is a dual citizen of Russia and the United Kingdom.
Police spokesperson Anja Mikkelsen stated that the suspect has acknowledged using a drone in Svalbard.
The Svalbard archipelago is a strategically placed Norwegian territory in the center of the Arctic, situated roughly 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the North Pole.
It has a sizable Russian population, and because of its unique legal status, foreign nationals may mine some of its natural resources.
Drones and other equipment that was in Yakunin’s hands have been seized, according to the police, and he has been detained for two weeks.
The Russian embassy in Oslo claimed on Monday, October 17, that “hysteria” in Norway was having an effect on “ordinary tourists,” and that the ban on Russians using drones was “unfounded and discriminatory.”