Arctic | Moscow accuses Norway of blocking the transport of goods to Svalbard

(Moscow) Moscow on Wednesday accused Norway of blocking the transit of goods to Russians settled in Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and threatened Oslo with reprisals.

Posted at 7:25am

“We have asked the Norwegian side to resolve this issue as soon as possible,” Russian diplomacy said in a statement, announcing that the Norwegian chargé d’affaires in Moscow had been summoned to the ministry.

“We stressed that unfriendly actions towards Russia will lead to retaliation,” he added.

According to Russia, at the Storskog land border crossing, Norway blocked shipments of equipment and food intended to be loaded on board a ship bound for Svalbard for Russian miners in the archipelago.

According to Sergey Guchtchin, Russian consul in the Arctic archipelago, it is 20 tons of goods, including seven tons of food and the rest of spare parts and essential equipment to prepare for the winter.

According to the diplomat, Norway is blocking the goods in application of European sanctions imposed on Russia for its offensive against Ukraine.

“I think Norway didn’t think twice about joining European sanctions,” he said.

The diplomat said Russia is studying alternative supply routes, including from Europe or by sea from the Russian city of Murmansk.

Svalbard, a thousand kilometers from the North Pole, is twice the size of Belgium and is sometimes referred to as “Nato’s Achilles heel in the Arctic”.

An atypical treaty concluded in Paris in 1920 recognizes Norway’s sovereignty over Spitsbergen, but also guarantees the members of the 46 signatory states, including Russia, the freedom to exploit the mineral resources there “on an absolutely equal basis”.

In this capacity, Russia – formerly the USSR – has been mining coal in these lands, which are inhabited by fewer than 3,000 people of about fifty nationalities, for decades.

Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Konstantin Kosatchev on Telegram accused Oslo of violating the Paris Agreement.

“The Norwegian authorities are trying to get Russian miners to go without food, which in itself is immoral. It violates human rights and the principles of humanism,” he accused.

However, the Russian consul denied any risk of food shortages.

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