The war in Ukraine poses several threats to the Netherlands, the Dutch civilian and military intelligence and security services AIVD and MIVD said in a report on Monday. They raised concerns about anti-government extremists in the Netherlands being covertly influenced by Russia and about the security of the Dutch energy supply.
“National security has been threatened for some time by the spread of anti-institutional extremism. This extremism manifests itself in a narrative about a so-called evil elite,” the AIVD and MIVD said. The groups often use their messaging to allege that the elite wields their power to control “common people” by inventing crises, “such as the coronavirus pandemic, the nitrogen crisis, but also the conflict in Ukraine.” Additionally, they allege that the rising gas prices are not the result of the war, but another tool of the elite’s attempts to oppress people, the security services continued.
The report noted that the extremist groups who are against government institutions are “overwhelming pro-Russian,” and look at Russian President Vladimir Putin as a type of hero trying to take down the Western elite. “Although this pro-Russian attitude does not necessarily contribute to the dissemination of the narrative, because the Dutch are predominantly pro-Ukrainian or neutral towards the conflict, this pro-Russian attitude probably makes this extremist movement more susceptible to Russian covert influence.”
The intelligence services are also concerned about the Netherlands’ energy infrastructure. According to the AIVD and MIVD, vital Dutch infrastructure in the North Sea, like internet cables, gas pipelines, and wind farms, are vulnerable to sabotage. “Russia is covertly mapping this infrastructure and undertaking activities that indicate espionage and preparatory acts for disruption and sabotage.”
They also worry that Russia may widen its sabotage plans to other vital infrastructure. “Such a physical threat to other vital sectors, such as drinking water and energy supply, is also conceivable, as long as such attacks can be carried out covertly.”
Netherlands must continue supporting Ukraine
With the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine approaching, the two security services agreed that the war, and the consequences from that war, will likely continue for a long time as neither side will be able to soon accomplish their military objectives. It is paramount that the Dutch stand united with the Western allies in opposition to Russian military aggression, and make sure Russia is not rewarded for its actions despite the war’s economic, diplomatic, and social impact on the “open and democratic society” of the Netherlands, they said.
“The outcome of the war in Ukraine will determine our future security and prosperity. The outcome depends on the combat readiness of Ukraine and Russia and on the international willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder and continue to provide aid to Ukraine,” they said in the report.
“The war is not just a Ukrainian conflict. It is also our conflict.”
War in Ukraine could increase threat of terrorist attacks from Al Qaeda and ISIS in Europe
The two security services also said that Al Qaeda and ISIS my look for ways to exploit the current turmoil in Europe. “First and foremost, jihadist organizations experience somewhat greater freedom of movement in Syria as a result of the reduced Russian activities in the area,” the report stated. This is amplified by the intelligence services of other nations also shifting resources away from the region, perhaps reducing the pressure on jihadist movements.
Jihadists who may have been hiding out in Ukraine have had an opportunity to flee that country and enter other parts of Europe. They may also be looking to exploit opportunities in Ukraine to obtain weaponry, including automatic firearms.
Ongoing investigations should help determine to what extent jihadist movements can use the situation to there benefit, and attempt to carry out a terrorist attack, said the AIVD and MIVD. The services described the situation as “worrying developments because the AIVD has observed some increase in the threat of attacks from ISIS towards Europe in recent months.”