Russian drone pilot detained on border to Norway

The Russian citizen was detained by police after two drones were found in his luggage at the Storskog border crossing point. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

A Russian citizen has been detained on the border crossing point of Storskog after police found two drones in his luggage. The detention comes after unidentified drones repeatedly have been spotted near oil and gas installations.

The 50 year old Russian was caught in a routine control conducted by Norwegian customs officials. He now faces legal charges, police told NRK.

The charges include breach of sanctions introduced following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Since the onslaught started in February this year Russians are not allowed to fly drones in Norway.

The man reportedly admits that he has used the drones on Norwegian territory. Police also found several data storage units in his luggage.

Charges could ultimately be extended. The case will now be taken over by the Norwegian security police (PST).

The detention comes after unidentified drones on several occasions have been spotted near Norwegian industrial installations, including oil and gas plants and infrastructure. The number of drone observations have significantly increased following the blasts of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

Heightened security introduced

On the 11th of October, Police in Hammerfest, northern Norway, informed that a possible drone observation had been made near the local Melkøya LNG plant.

Norway has recently introduced heightened security and preparedness around objects of key strategic importance. Several coast guard vessels are now guarding the waters around offshore energy installations and the Home Guard has mobilized forces on land.

Norwegian Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl does not want to speculate whether or not the detained drone pilot could have been involved in espionage.

“I can not comment on specific cases, but it is clear that the intelligence threats against us are increasing following developments in Europe,” she told NRK.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Senate committee studying Arctic security in response to int’l interest in region, CBC News

Finland: No return to pre-war reality when it comes to Arctic cooperation, says Finnish rep, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Canada’s GG among keynote speakers at Arctic Circle Assembly, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway limits access for Russian fishing trawlers in security push, Thomson Reuters

Russia: Newly deployed nuke-bombers at Kola is certainly a signalling, expert says, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: China, Russia among global priorities, including in Arctic, in U.S. security strategy, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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