During a joint visit to a Norwegian gas rig on Friday, EU and NATO leaders stressed the country's importance for Europe's energy supply and expressed their common will to better protect energy infrastructure. "Putin has tried to blackmail the European Union by cutting us off from Russian gas supplies," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries, based in Brussels.

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But Norway has increased its production, and "that has helped us through the winter." NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also stressed that the Russian president had failed to "use energy as a weapon." At the same time, he pointed out how "vulnerable" the energy structure is. On Thursday, an EU-NATO task force for the protection of critical infrastructures met for the first time.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre received Stoltenberg and von der Leyen on the Troll A platform, the world's largest construction of its kind, 65 kilometers off the Norwegian coast near the city of Bergen. His country meets between 30 and 40 percent of the EU's demand for natural gas, he said. Ten percent alone is funded by this platform, which has been in operation since 1996. "It is our ambition to maintain this high level over the next four to five years." Støre recalled that in November, together with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, he had asked NATO to coordinate initiatives to protect energy infrastructure. In Norway alone, there are ninety installations at sea and 8000,<> kilometers of submarine pipelines.

The issue had moved to the agenda of NATO and the EU with the explosions at the Nordstream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. "NATO must be able to protect the critical infrastructure of allies," Stoltenberg said, though not "every meter at all times." The alliance has therefore stepped up its patrols and exercises at sea. The visit to the platform was symbolically flanked by four frigates of the Alliance's Permanent Maritime Task Force, which had just returned from a manoeuvre in northern Norway.

"The military presence is important because it sends a clear message of deterrence," Stoltenberg told the FAZ on the platform. The allies would have to further strengthen their capabilities, from reconnaissance aircraft to special submarines. "We know that Russia has special programs to monitor our infrastructure at sea and capabilities to combat it."

Findings by German investigators suggesting that a Ukrainian group could be responsible for the explosions on the NordStream pipelines did not change the risk assessment. "What we do know is that it was an attack, an act of sabotage," Stoltenberg said. One had to wait for the national investigations. In Norway, sightings of drones near production platforms had also led to uncertainty in September. Several Russians had been arrested and sentenced for illegally flying drones. Asked about this, Støre told the F.A.Z.: "We have taken measures against it. Our platforms are equipped with sensors. We haven't seen anything like this in recent months."