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RUSSIA

Norway expels three Russian diplomats 

Three Russian diplomats accused of conducting activities 'incompatible with their diplomatic status' have been expelled, the Norwegian foreign ministry announced Wednesday. 

Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt
Norway has expelled three diplomats from Russia, the foreign ministry has announced. Pictured: Norway's Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt addresses a press conference during a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Riga, Latvia November 30, 2021. Photo by Gints Ivuskans / AFP.

Three diplomats from the Russian embassy in Oslo have been expelled from the country and given persona non grata status, the Norwegian foreign ministry has announced. 

The three are accused of having conducted activities “incompatible with their diplomatic status”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said. 

“This is a consequence of the appalling discovery of Russian forces’ crimes against civilians, in particular in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv. In this situation, we pay particular attention to unwanted Russian activities in Norway,” Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement

Horrific images of corpses lying in the streets in the town of Bucha north-west of Kyiv, some with their hands bound behind them, following the Russian withdrawal, have drawn international condemnation of Russia, and the EU is considering additional sanctions. 

“Together with our close allies and partners, we will continue to stand together against Russian aggression and in our support for Ukraine,” Huitfeldt added.

In recent days, European countries have expelled almost 200 diplomats. Among them was Denmark, which deported 15 diplomats it had accused of spying

 
Norway’s security service PST said that more workers from the Russian embassy in Oslo could be expelled as it believed a number of intelligence officers worked there. 
 
“What we can say is that at the Russian embassy in Oslo, a significant number of intelligence officers work and they work there under diplomatic cover. It is therefore natural for us to follow this further,” Martin Bernsen, senior adviser at PST told newspaper VG

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RUSSIA

Norway says it hasn’t breached treaty by blocking Russian cargo to Svalbard

Norway is not breaching a century-old treaty covering the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard by blocking Russian cargo to the islands, the country's foreign minister said Wednesday after Moscow threatened retaliatory measures.

Norway says it hasn't breached treaty by blocking Russian cargo to Svalbard

“Norway does not violate the Svalbard Treaty,” foreign minister Anniken Huitfeldt told AFP. “Norway does not try to put obstacles in the way of supplies” to a Russian coal mining settlement in the area, she said, after Russia’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Norway’s charge d’affaires over the issue.

Moscow accused Norway of disrupting the work of the Russian consulate general on Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard but allows citizens of more than 40 countries to exploit the islands’ potentially vast resources on an equal footing.

Moscow has long wanted a bigger say in the archipelago — which it insists on calling Spitsbergen rather than the Norwegian Svalbard – which has been a haunt of its hunters, whalers and fishermen since the 16th century. The Svalbard Treaty handing sovereignty to Norway was signed in 1920.

Huitfeldt argued the shipment that was stopped at the Norwegian-Russian border “has been stopped on the basis of the sanctions that prohibit Russian road transport companies from transporting goods on Norwegian territory”.

Goods transport “does not have to go via mainland Norway by Russian truck”, she said, suggesting other solutions could be found to supply the mining community.

Svalbard was exempt from a ban on port calls by Russian-flagged vessels, “and we have clearly signalled our willingness to consider a dispensation from the flight ban”, the minister said.

The situation in the town of Barentsburg, home to the Russian miners, was “normal”, she said.

“Residents have access to food and medicine,” Huitfeldt said. “It is not Norwegian policy to try to force Russian companies or citizens away from Svalbard, or to put obstacles in the way of the business that takes place in accordance with Norwegian laws and regulations.

“At the same time, Norway’s necessary reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine may also have practical consequences for Russian companies on Svalbard, as in Norway in general,” Huitfeldt said.

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