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Moscow threatens reprisals after accusing Norway of blocking transit to Svalbard

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Moscow threatens reprisals after accusing Norway of blocking transit to Svalbard
Russia has accused Norway of blocking supplies from reaching miners on Svalbard. File photo: People arrive back from a ski tour , 2022, in Longyearbyen, located on Spitsbergen island, in Svalbard Archipelago, northern Norway. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP

Russia's foreign ministry said Wednesday it summoned Norway's charge d'affaires, accusing Oslo of blocking access to the Svalbard archipelago and vowing retaliation.

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The Russian foreign ministry said Norway's restrictions disrupted the work of the Russian consulate general on Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, and a Russian coal mining settlement there.

"We demanded that the Norwegian side resolve the issue as soon as possible," the Russian foreign ministry said. "We indicated that unfriendly actions against Russia will inevitably lead to appropriate retaliatory measures."

Russia claims that the supply of food, medicine, building materials and spare parts for means of transport were being blocked by Norwegian authorities. 

The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian House of Lords, Konstantin Kosachev, said that Norwegian authorities have cited sanctions imposed in Russia as the reason for stopping supplies. 

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Earlier this month, E24 reported that Norway had stopped a shipment of several tonnes of food to Russian miners on on Spitsbergen at Storskog border station.

Vehicles carrying food and medical supplies to Spitsbergen have been stuck on the border since, the Russian foreign ministry said.

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 has been a haunt of its hunters, whalers and fishermen since the 16th century.

Russia insists on calling the archipelago Spitsbergen rather than the Norwegian Svalbard, the official name since shortly after the treaty handing them to Norway was signed in 1920.

READ ALSO: NATO’s ‘Arctic Achilles heel’ in Norway eyed up by China and Russia

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