Russian fishing trawlers and research vessels are nothing new. The Kremlin has been using these spy ships since the Cold War. However, they seem to have upped the ante since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. This is probably another intimidation tactic but, also, it could well be an intentional preparation for a war against NATO and the West.

     Putin has given absolutely no indication that he will back down from his dream of resurrecting the Russian Empire or that he has any restrictions on how he might achieve that, including going to war with NATO. I have said several times that just because he buys his suits in London’s Savile Row, doesn’t mean we are dealing with a civilized, or rational, person. All indications are that he will push forward with his dream until he is stopped. The questions are: How, by whom, when, and what damage he will cause in the interim?

     An interesting interview with the head of Ukraine’s intelligence two days ago revealed he is convinced that the Russian Federation will completely collapse within the next 3-7 years. Self-serving, perhaps, but he almost certainly in a better position to know than most. One can hope…….and fear what might happen leading up to that demise. Back to the article at hand.

     Russia has a program to sabotage wind farms and communication cables in the North Sea, according to new allegations. The details come from a joint investigation by public broadcasters in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. It says Russian fishing trawlers and research vessels are operating in the North Sea. They carry underwater surveillance equipment and are mapping key sites for possible sabotage. The track of the Admiral Vladimirski, in the diagram below, leaves absolutely no doubt that these surveillance voyages are deliberate, and specific, in their target selections.

     A Danish counter-intelligence officer says the sabotage plans are being prepared in case of a full conflict with the West, while the head of Norwegian intelligence told the broadcasters the program was considered highly important for Russia and controlled directly from Moscow.

     The broadcasters say they have analysed intercepted Russian communications which also indicate that these so-called ghost ships are sailing in Nordic waters: The Russian fishing trawlers are called ghost ships because they have turned off their transponders so as not to reveal their locations, which is against international maritime law.

     The International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea requires AIS transponders to be fitted aboard international voyaging ships with 300 or more gross tonnage (GT), and all passenger ships regardless of size.

     The first of a series of reports on this spy mission was due to be broadcast last Wednesday by DR in Denmark, NRK in Norway, SVT in Sweden and Yle in Finland. It says the vessel slows down when it approaches areas where there are wind farms, and loiters in the area. It says the vessel sailed for a month with its transponder turned off. When a reporter approached the ship on a small boat, he was confronted by a masked individual carrying what appeared to be a military assault rifle.

     The same ship was reportedly sighted off the Scottish coast last year. It was spotted entering the Moray Firth on 10 November and seen about 30 nautical miles east of Lossiemouth, home to the RAF’s Maritime Patrol Aircraft fleet, before heading slowly west.

     It is logical to conclude that the survey conducted by the Admiral Vladimiski will provide the location information for Russian missile batteries, which will be much harder to stop than a vulnerable lone ship meandering around the North Sea. An “accidental” sinking might send the right message, or perhaps more covertly, an electronic attack to nullify all information the ship has gathered.

     I am certain that the NATO navies have the situation well in hand, but it is still concerning as a deliberate, and obvious, escalation of Putin’s plans.

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