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Norway: Expelled Russian diplomats sought to recruit sources, buy advanced technology

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Fifteen Russian diplomats expelled by Norway this week had sought to recruit sources, intercept communications and buy advanced technology, the Norwegian PST security police said on Friday.

The diplomats’ real employers were the Russian GRU, FSB and SVR intelligence services, PST counterintelligence chief Inger Haugland told a news conference.

“This lowers the threat from Russian intelligence in Norway by permanently reducing the number of intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover,” Haugland said of the expulsions.

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Norway’s decision marks its largest ever expulsion of Russian diplomats and is the latest in a series such moves by Western nations since the start of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Norway’s action will remove more than one third of around 40 Russian diplomats in Norway, according to the Norwegian foreign ministry.

The expelled diplomats were all men and worked at the consular, trade and embassy sections of the Russian delegation in Oslo, PST Superintendent Dag Roehjell told Reuters.

Russia on Thursday said it would respond to the expulsions.

NATO member Norway shares a border with Russia in the Arctic. It has stepped up security since the start of the Ukraine war, especially around its oil and gas installations, as it is now Europe’s top gas supplier following a drop in Russian flows.

In October, Norway arrested a suspected Russian spy it described as an illegal agent - an intelligence

operative without official government links who assumes a covert persona, often using a real, dead person’s identity.

Norway has also investigated a number of drone sightings around oil and gas infrastructure onshore and offshore in the wake of the explosions last year on the Nord Stream pipelines.

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