Russian deputies urged to denounce Arctic treaty with Norway

Russia's top lawmaker on Tuesday said parliamentary deputies should consider denouncing a landmark Arctic border treaty with Norway as tensions rage between the two countries.

Pictured is a trawler in the Barents Sea.
Russia has said that parliamentary deputies should look at denouncing a treaty with Norway. File photo: The Norwegian Coast Guard boards this unregistered trawler "Joana" fishing illegally in the Barents Sea. Photo by Norwegian Coast Guard / Scanpix / AFP

The announcement comes with Moscow accusing Oslo of blocking access to the Svalbard archipelago and ties between the Kremlin and European countries unravelling over Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

In 2010, Russia and Norway signed a treaty on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean, putting to rest a
40-year-old row.

On Tuesday, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, tasked lawmakers with considering “the issue of denunciation of the agreement with Norway on cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean,” the State Duma said.

Volodin backed Communist lawmaker Mikhail Matveyev said that in 2010 Russia “had ceded 175,000 square kilometres of the Barents Sea to Norway”.

Today, Norway is preventing the delivery of food and cargo to Spitsbergen,” the State Duma said in a statement, citing Matveyev.

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

Last week Russia’s foreign ministry summoned Norway’s charge d’affaires, accusing Oslo of blocking access to the Svalbard archipelago and threatening retaliation.

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 and insists on calling it Spitsbergen rather than the Norwegian Svalbard.

After President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February, the West has hit Russia with several rounds of unprecedented sanctions.

Last week Norway announced nearly a billion euros of aid to Ukraine.

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Norwegian consul filmed insulting Russians at hotel

Norway’s foreign ministry said it "deeply regretted" an incident after which security footage was shared on social media appearing to show a Norwegian consul insulting Russians at a hotel reception.

Norwegian consul filmed insulting Russians at hotel

In the video, posted on a Telegram channel reputed to be close to the Russian security services on Saturday, a woman introduced as Elisabeth Ellingsen, Norwegian consul in the Arctic city of Murmansk, appears exasperated as she waits for a clean room.

“I hate Russians… Just give me a room… I’m used to clean rooms, I’m from Scandinavia,” she says in the edited version of the footage on the Mash channel.

On Saturday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 500,000 times.

The Norwegian foreign ministry said it “deeply regretted” the incident.

“The sentiments expressed do not reflect Norwegian policy or the Norwegian attitude towards Russia and the Russian people,” it told news wire AFP, adding that the ministry was dealing with the incident “through the appropriate channels”.

According to the website of the Norwegian embassy in Moscow, the Norwegian Consulate General in Murmansk has been temporarily closed since July 1st, due to the “difficult” situation in bilateral relations.

The Norwegian foreign ministry did not specify whether the incident took place before or after the temporary closure of the consulate.

The diplomatic incident comes at a time of great tension in relations between Russia and the West over Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, which has prompted a volley of European and US sanctions against Moscow.Russia’s foreign ministry on Saturday called the incident “outrageous”.

Russian diplomatic spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Telegram: “The Russian foreign ministry is considering a reaction to this outrageous act of hatred, nationalism and xenophobia.”