Putin identifying scapegoats ahead of planned counteroffensive, say officials and experts
Intelligence services and experts have warned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Ukraine’s Russian-controlled city of Kherson on Tuesday was intended to identify potential scapegoats ahead of a planned counteroffensive.
Russian civilian and military ships are mapping offshore infrastructure to sabotage wind farms, gas pipelines and communication cables in the waters around Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, according to a joint investigation by broadcasters SVT in Sweden, DR in Denmark, NRK in Norway and Yie in Finland.
Moscow is planning sabotage in Scandinavian countries, while also collecting intelligence to cut power and data cables across the Atlantic and the rest of Europe in case of an escalation, Danish broadcaster DR reported citing Danish counterintelligence chief Anders Henriksen from Danish Police Intelligence Service (PET).
In the event of a conflict with the West, “they are ready and know where to intervene if they want to paralyze Danish society,” said Henriksen.
In a report, NRK quoted Nils Andreas Stensones, head of the Norwegian Intelligence Services, as saying: “This is a strategic capacity for Russia, which is considered very important and is controlled directly from Moscow.”
The Institute for the Study of War based in Washington stated earlier that Putin was consulted by Commander of Russian Airborne Forces Col. Gen. Mikhail Teplinsky, Commander of the Dnepr Group of Forces Col. Gen. Oleg Makarevich, “and other unnamed military commanders regarding the situation along the Kherson and Zaporizhia frontlines.”
The joint investigation by the public Nordic broadcasters suggested that surveillance vessels could be linked to an event that occurred last year south of Norway when an underwater data cable was cut.
Last September parts of the Nord Stream pipeline, designed to carry gas from Russia to Europe, was destroyed and it was concluded that the damage was due to undersea explosions with many accusing Moscow of being responsible.
However, the Nord Stream investigations are still ongoing with some reports suggesting the sabotage could have been carried out by others too, including pro-Ukrainian actors.