Norway-Russia Tensions Escalate Over Sanctions Impacting Arctic Islands
Authored by Kyle Anzalone via The Libertarian Institute,
The latest point of confrontation between NATO and Russia is the Svalbard archipelago, located midway between Norway and the North Pole. Moscow claims Oslo is restricting trade with the island's hundreds of Russian residents.
A top member of the Russian legislature is now calling for Moscow to leave its agreement with Oslo that resolved the territorial dispute over the far-northern archipelago.
🇳🇴🇷🇺The Norwegians did not allow Russian cargoes to Svalbard: food, building materials, equipment for the workers' settlements. According to the treaty of 1920, Russia agreed to recognize Svalbard as Norwegian, but received special economic rights in the archipelago. pic.twitter.com/n4sSiYVDdU— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZmilitary1) July 5, 2022
During a discussion about Norway restricting trade to the islands in the Russian Duma, the body’s speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, requested the head of the chamber’s international affairs committee to look into "denouncing" the treaty. The agreement was signed in 2010.
In June, a shipment of goods to a Russian-operated mining colony on Svalbard was turned back. Moscow claimed the move by Oslo deprived the miners of needed food and medicine.
"Norwegian authorities are trying to leave Russian miners without food, which is inherently immoral. This violates human rights and the principles of humanism," said Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev.
Konstantin went on to claim that Norway’s blocking of shipments violated international agreements. Oslo disputed the accusations saying it had not broken treaties and was legally enforcing sanctions.
The shipment was "stopped on the basis of the sanctions that prohibit Russian road transport companies from transporting goods on Norwegian territory," Norway’s Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said.
Huitfeldt noted there were potential options to allow the Kremlin to supply the miners without violating sanctions. The Russian Foreign Ministry promised Moscow would take "retaliatory measures" in response, though did not elaborate on what that might entail.
Svalbard, a thousand kilometres from the North Pole, is a Norwegian archipelago twice the size of Belgium, and it’s sometimes referred to as NATO's "Achilles’ heel in the Arctic". pic.twitter.com/U3Lh02sHPT— euronews (@euronews) June 30, 2022
Last month, according to Reuters, the Russian foreign ministry said it had "summoned Norway's chargé d'affaires to protest against the restrictions, which it said have disrupted the delivery of critical supplies, including food and medical equipment."