Norway denied violating a treaty by blocking a Russian freighter heading to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard

The Svalbard archipelago, north of Norway (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP) (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND /)

Norway is not violating 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 will threaten to retaliate.

“Norway does not violate the Svalbard Treaty”the minister told AFP Anniken Huitfeldt.

In addition, he added that “Norway does not try to put obstacles to supplies” of a Russian coal mining settlement in the area.

The statements come after the Russian Foreign Ministry said that he had summoned the Norwegian chargé d’affaires about the matter.

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The Svalbard archipelago, in a file photo (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP) (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND /)

“We have asked the Norwegian side to resolve this matter as soon as possible.”Russian diplomacy said in a statement, adding: “We have stressed that hostile actions against Russia lead to retaliatory measures”.

According to Russia, Norway blocked the Storskog land border crossing point from material and food that had to be loaded on board a ship to go to Svalbard for the Russian miners of the archipelago.

A thousand kilometers from the North Pole, this territory with the twice the size of Belgium is sometimes considered NATO’s “Achilles’ heel” in the Arctic by offering the opportunity for Russia or China to make a mark in this region strategically important and economically promising.

The atypical treaty, signed in 1920 in Paris, recognizes the Norway’s sovereignty over Svalbard, but guarantees the citizens of the signatory States (46 at present) the freedom to exploit its natural resources “on a basis of perfect equality”.

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Norway blocked Russian access to the Svalbard archipelago (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP) (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND /)

Thanks to this, for decades Russia, and before that the Soviet Union, mines coal on these islands inhabited by less than 3,000 people of about 50 nationalities.

Russian hackers target Norwegian companies

The websites of several large Norwegian companies have been victims of cyberattacks this Wednesday that have left them inaccessible, according to the National Security Authority (NSM), which attributed the offensive to Russian hackers.

“What appears to be a pro-Russian criminal group appears to be behind the attacks,” the agency said in a statement, specifying that these are DDOS (denial of service) types.

“The attacks are directed against a large number of Norwegian companies that offer important services to the population,” affirmed the director of the NSM, Sofie Nistrom.

NASAMS air defense system, deployed in Norway ( Wikimedia Commons )
NASAMS air defense system, deployed in Norway ( Wikimedia Commons )

Russian hacker group Killnet, which also claimed responsibility for the cyberattacks recorded by Lithuania on Mondayclaimed in a Telegram post that he is responsible for the crackdown on Norwegian websites, and that it was in retaliation for Norway’s decision not to allow a Russian company to transport goods in Svalbard.

With information from AFP and EFE

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