Heroes and Villains
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Norwegian authorities recently detained a Russian carrying two drones, photos and videos as he tried to return home via the far northern border, CBS News reported. The arrest followed sightings of drones flying off the Norwegian coast near oil and gas drilling platforms that make Norway a major energy producer.
The incident came a few days after authorities in the Scandinavian country arrested at least seven other Russians – including the son of a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin – for illegally snapping photographs of banned subjects. The authorities didn’t identify the subjects, the Associated Press reported, but Norway has increased security around its oil and gas facilities after underwater blasts ruptured natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea that transport Russian gas to Germany. Observers assume the explosions were sabotage.
As Europe reduces its consumption of Russian energy in a bid to apply pressure on Putin to withdraw from Ukraine, Norway’s energy exports have filled the gap.
Experts at the Atlantic Council are already speculating that Russia might have already launched a hybrid war against Norway using drones, cyberattacks and other measures in order to further cut Europe’s energy supplies. Russia’s aim in this so-called “Winter War” would be to compel leaders in Berlin, Paris and Rome to come begging for more Russian hydrocarbons as the cold, dark months approach.
But Norway is getting squeezed from the West, too. While Norwegian energy heats German, French and Italian homes, folks in those countries are “fuming” that Norway has resisted deep discounts to help the continent in a show of solidarity against Russian aggression, Euractiv noted.
As the Washington Post noted, Norway has become both a “hero and a villain” of the moment. “With natural gas scarce and pipelines in peril, Europe has rarely needed Norway more. Or resented it as much,” wrote the newspaper.
Norwegians, however, are used to ambivalence when it comes to energy. Their carbon-emitting natural resources fund their generous social welfare state. At the same time, however, Norwegians are among the most climate change-conscious people in the world. They have long lived with this dichotomy.
The head of Norway’s oil-financed $1.2 trillion sovereign wealth fund recently told the Financial Times that investors should keep their eye on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns that had been an animating force in finance before Russia’s invasion reminded the world that most machines still depend on fossil fuels, for better or for worse.
The fund is helping Norway to build the first all-electric public transportation system in a capital city, Euronews reported. Similarly, confidence in sustainable technology has led to nearly 100 percent of car sales in the country involving electric vehicles, according to the Driven, an Australian news outlet.
Norway has achieved great success in using carbon to convert to a green economy. No wonder Russia isn’t pleased.