Moscow Plays Hard Ball in the High North

11 Feb 2020

(EDM) The message from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to his Norwegian counterpart, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Spitsbergen Treaty was rude even by the standards of Russian diplomacy. Russia has, on several previous occasions, signaled disagreements with various measures Norway has taken to protecting the unique Arctic environment of its Svalbard archipelago. The letter Lavrov sent last week (February 4) describes these measures as “unreasonable” and “unlawful,” and it sternly invites Oslo “to conduct bilateral consultations to lift the [local] restrictions from the operations of Russian organizations” (Mid.ru, February 4). Official Russian media followed up with accusations of “crude violations” by Norway of Russia’s traditional and legitimate rights to unrestricted access to the archipelago (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 5). [...]

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