Russia’s Threat to Norway in the Next 24 Months


    Several countries’ Intelligence services operate within Norwegian territory. In terms of infiltration and reconnaissance, Russia’s Threat to Norway is the greatest of all operators. In light of the war between Russia and Ukraine, it is highly likely that Moscow will engage in cyber-attacks and illegal procurement activities in order to obtain sensitive information and access to technology. This ultimately services the country’s strategic aims within the region as Norway remains locked in a power struggle with Russia [source].  

    Key Judgement 1: In the next 24 months, the threat posed by Russian cyber operations against Norway is serious and highly likely to continue at current levels.

    • Computer network operations have become an integral part of the activities of the Russian Intelligence Services. The Norwegian National Security Authority has reported numerous Russian cyber-attacks aimed at both public and private sector organisations [source].

    • Norway’s Intelligence Service believes that Russian hacking group APT28 was responsible for the cyber-attack on Norweigan Parliament in 2020 [source]. APT28 is highly likely to be associated with the Russian GRU [source]. The attack affected the Norwegian Parliament’s email system of politicians and employees. Moreover, classified information regarding several foreign states’ Intelligence was downloaded by the hacking group [source].

    • Russian Intelligence agencies are likely to target their cyber operations at organisations affiliated with Norwegian foreign affairs, defence, and security. The Norwegian National Security Authority publicly warned these sectors that they should prepare for Russian cyber attempts to steal sensitive data [source].

    • Russia perceives Norway as a hostile actor, due to its founding member status in NATO. The Cold Response 2022 – a Norwegian military exercise – began in March. Norway invited NATO allies and partner nations to participate [source]. Cold Response is the largest Norwegian-held military exercise since the end of the Cold War [source].

    • Therefore, it is highly likely that Russia will continue its cyber-attacks against Norway. Norwegian foreign affairs, defence, and security policy are likely to be Russia’s primary targets. 

    Key Judgement 2: In the next 24 months, it is highly likely that Norway’s oil and gas installations will be the target of Russian cyber-attacks. 

    • Scientists and Analysts have warned that Norwegian oil and gas installations are at an increased risk of Russian cyber-attacks following the intensification of the war between Russia and Ukraine [source].

    • The European Union is trying to find a way to cope with partial disruption to gas imports from Russia. Western countries have long been under pressure to diversify their energy sources and migrate away from their reliance on Russian natural resources. The Russian military incursion of Ukraine has increased the urgency of finding alternative oil and gas suppliers [source].

    • Norway is Europe’s second largest gas provider after Russia, responsible for near 25% of total imports of gas in the area. Due to the crisis in Ukraine, gas deliveries from Norway are particularly important for Europe [source].

    • Therefore, Russia is highly incentivised to undermine Norway’s supply of gas to Europe, by delaying and interrupting the provision of the service through cyber-attacks. This would deter the EU from imposing further sanctions on Moscow by forcing dependence on Russia’s gas and oil supplies. 

    Key Judgement 3: In the next 24 months, it is likely that Russia will engage in illegal procurement activities in Norway.

    • Russian state actors seek new technologies to ensure military capability, political influence and economic growth. Moscow is willing to go to great lengths to obtain technology to fulfil such strategic aims. 

    • Russian actors involved in illegal procurement attempts in Norway use illegal means such as cyber hacking or circumventing export control regulations, especially in light of EU sanctions that seek to limit Russia’s access to sensitive technology. [source]

    • Norwegian enterprise offers goods, services, technology, and expertise that is advantageous for Russia’s military development. Moreover, Norwegian research institutions and private organisations have access to advanced laboratory facilities and research infrastructures. Therefore, Russia may be incentivized to use illegal means to obtain sensitive information, knowledge and technology, that it would be otherwise prevented to obtain in light of the sanctions imposed on Moscow [source].

    Intelligence cut-off date: 6th of May 2022

    Arianna Sparviero
    Arianna Sparviero
    Arianna Sparviero is a graduate student at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. She is currently enrolled in the first year of the master course in International Affairs.

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