Russia accuses Norway of blocking traffic to Arctic archipelago

Russia on Wednesday accused Norway of blocking the transit of goods destined for Russians established in the Norwegian arctic archipelago of Svalbard and threatened Oslo with reprisals.

“We urge 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 foreign ministry.

“We emphasize that hostile actions towards Russia lead to retaliatory measures,” he added.

According to Russia, Norway blocked at the Storskog land crossing point the equipment and food that were supposed to be loaded aboard a ship bound for Svalbard for Russian miners living on the archipelago.

According to Sergei Guchtchin, Russian consul in the arctic archipelago, there are 20 tons of goods, including seven tons of food products and the rest of spare parts and essential equipment to prepare for winter.

Also according to the diplomat, Norway is blocking the goods in application of European sanctions adopted against Russia because of its offensive against Ukraine.

“I think Norway did not think well about adhering to European sanctions,” he said.

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

Located 1,000 kilometers from the North Pole, Svalbard is twice the size of Belgium and is sometimes considered the “Achilles heel of NATO in the Arctic”.

An atypical treaty, concluded in 1920 in Paris, recognizes Norway’s sovereignty over Svalbard, but also guarantees the citizens of the signatory states, which now number 46 – including Russia – the freedom to exploit natural resources “on an equal footing”. .

As a result of this treaty, for decades, Russia – the USSR before it – has been extracting coal from these lands inhabited by less than 3,000 people of about fifty nationalities.

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

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

The Russian consul, however, denied any risk of food shortages.

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