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Russian man arrested for flying drone over Norwegian airport

Norwegian police have arrested a Russian man after he was caught flying a drone over an airport in northern Norway, police said on Saturday, the second such incident in the past week.

The 51-year-old man was arrested Friday morning after he was found to have flown a drone at Tromsø airport, in northern Norway, police said. Police seized a “large” amount of photographic equipment, including the drone and several memory cards.

When assessing the seized equipment, police found photos of the airport in Kirkenes, a Norwegian town near the Russian border, and of a Norwegian military helicopter.

The man, who was not identified, is accused of operating a drone in Norway, police said. In February, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority banned Russians from flying or operating aircraft, including drones, in Norway. The law prohibits Russian-registered and Russian-operated aircraft from landing in, taking off from or flying over Norway.

The man does not live in Norway, police said, and entered the country on Thursday through Storskog, a town on Norway’s north coast, near Russia. Police said he was on his way to Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago that is part of Norway, although Russia has some rights to the natural resources in the area, and there are Russian settlements on Svalbard.

Norway is portrayed as both hero and villain in Europe’s energy crisis

The arrest comes amid heightened security concerns in Norway over the past week: Another Russian man was arrested last week after customs officials found two drones in his luggage at the border crossing in Storskog, the Associated Press reported. He said in court that he had been in the country since August and had flown drones across the country.

There were numerous drone sightings in sensitive locations last week, including the Kårstø gas plant, near the city of Stavanger in southwestern Norway. A bomb threat, which was later found not credible, at a gas factory last week forced evacuations and halted operations for a while.

Last month, the country’s oil safety regulator urged oil companies to be more vigilant about drones near offshore oil and gas platforms as they pose a risk of accidents or “deliberate attacks,” after state oil and gas company Equinor said. that it had notified authorities of drone sightings near some of its platforms.

European officials have claimed that breaches of three underwater natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea were sabotage. The incidents raised concerns about the security of energy infrastructure in the region, with many quickly pointing the finger at Russia.

Norway is playing an increasing role in Europe’s energy security during the war in Ukraine; it has replaced Russia as the main natural gas supplier to the European Union.

Along the northernmost reaches, NATO member Norway shares a 120-mile border with Russia. The war prompted the Scandinavian neighbors of Norway, Finland and Sweden, to seek accession to the treaty.

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