Russians use Norwegian border crossing to get in and out Europe

With Vladimir Putin's move to invade Ukraine, Russians have found it harder to travel in and out of Europe, but many have turned to the border crossing with Norway as an alternative.

Russians use Norwegian border crossing to get in and out Europe
Russians are using the border in Kirkenes to travel into Europe as a result of clsoed airspace .A general view of the Norwegian border crossing station at Storskog on November 11, 2015 near the town of Kirkenes in northern Norway. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP.

A small Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle has become a route for Russians to travel in and out of Europe, newspaper VG reports. 

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has led to European airspace being closed to Russian aircraft and most international airlines cancelling flights to and from Russia. Now, many Russians are using the border near Kirkenes to journey in and out of Europe.

Below you can see Kirkenes on the map, the black line towards the bottom right is the Russian border. 

Aleksander Kotelnikov, who runs a taxi company that shuttles people between Kirkenes on the Norwegian side of the border and Murmansk on the Russian side, has said that entry and exit via Kirkenes was one of few logical choices for those who want to travel between Russia and the West. The other routes available to Russians were via Istanbul and Dubai.

The taxi company owner added that the route via Kirkenes was most popular for people who would typically fly between Oslo and Moscow. 

“Now those who would normally fly Oslo-Moscow come here to Kirkenes, then we drive them across the border to Murmansk, and then they fly domestically to Moscow,” he told VG.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Norway’s border with Russia

Prior to the airspace ban, a flight between Moscow and Olso took 2.5 hours.

The police in Finnmark have said that there are no restrictions barring Russian nationals who have a Schengen visa, residence permit, or border permit, from travelling into Norway via Kirkenes. 

Refugees previously used the border crossing near Kirkenes to travel from Russia into Norway. The route gained national and international headlines due to Russian laws prohibiting foot crossings and Norwegian ones preventing people from driving migrants across the border. This led to refugees using bicycles to cross the border.

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Greenpeace activists block Russian oil tanker in Norway

Greenpeace activists in Norway blocked a Russian oil tanker from unloading its cargo near Oslo Monday, saying the shipment was helping to finance Russian President Vladimir Putin's "warfare". 

Greenpeace activists block Russian oil tanker in Norway

The Hong Kong-registered Ust Luga, leased by Russian oil company Novatek, is carrying 95,000 tonnes of fuel bound for Esso’s terminal in southeast Norway, Greenpeace said in a statement.

The tanker was coming from its namesake Russian city, near Saint Petersburg, according to the Marine Traffic website.

Greenpeace activists in a small boat chained themselves to the ship, while others in kayaks unfurled banners reading “oil fuels war,” the group said.

Some activists were stopped by police before they could take part in the action.

“I am shocked that Norway is operating as a free port for Russian oil, which we now is financing Putin’s warfare,” Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway, said in the statement.

According to a spokeswoman for Esso Norway, the shipment in question was not affected by Western sanctions against Russia imposed over its invasion of Ukraine. 

“The contracts were entered into before Russia invaded Ukraine,” Anne Fougner told newspaper Dagbladet.

“Esso Norway has no other contracts for products from Russia,” she added.

Although it is not a member of the European Union, Norway has matched almost all sanctions imposed by the EU on Moscow since March 18th.