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Norwegian diplomats expelled by Russia in retaliatory move

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Norwegian diplomats expelled by Russia in retaliatory move
Russia has expelled 10 Norwegian diplomats. Picture: law enforcement officer stands guard as people tour the grounds of the Kremlin, with the Spasskaya tower and Saint Basil's cathedral seen in the background, in downtown Moscow on April 7, 2023. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

Russia said on Wednesday it was expelling 10 Norwegian diplomats as a "retaliatory measure" after Norway announced it was kicking out 15 Russians.

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Norway's ambassador was informed that 10 Norwegian embassy officials were to leave the country, Russia's foreign ministry announced. 

"(Norway's ambassador to Russia) Robert Kvile was handed a note declaring 'persona non grata' 10 representatives of the Norwegian embassy in Moscow," Russia's foreign ministry said.

In mid-April, Norway announced the expulsion of 15 "intelligence officers" working at the Russian embassy in Oslo. "This hostile step further aggravated the situation in our bilateral relations, which are already at a critically low level," the Russian ministry said Wednesday.

The Norwegian authorities said they were notified of the expulsions.

"All our diplomats in Russia carry out normal diplomatic work. The Russian authorities know this well," said foreign ministry spokesperson Ragnhild Simenstad.

Norwegian intelligence services regularly point to Russia and China as the main espionage threats to the Nordic country, which is a member of NATO and shares a 198-kilometre (123-mile) border with Russia in the Arctic.

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Norway's counter-intelligence service, the Police Security Service (PST), has said that Russia's intelligence activities will continue even after 15 alleged operatives were expelled

Head of PST's counter-intelligence Inger Haugland has previously told public broadcaster NRK that Russia had intensified its intelligence activities following its invasion of Ukraine and was willing to take greater risks in Europe regarding its espionage attempts.

The defence and petroleum sectors were both areas highlighted as particularly vulnerable to intelligence-gathering attempts from Russia.

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