Norway blocks food delivery to Russian miners in Svalbard

Norway, citing EU sanctions against Russia, has banned land transit of goods destined for Russian mining settlements in Svalbard.

Norway, citing EU sanctions against Russia, has banned land transit of goods destined for Russian mining settlements in Svalbard.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Norway, citing EU sanctions against Russia, has banned land transit of goods destined for Russian mining settlements in Svalbard. Two containers with seven tons of products and components for ships and vehicles were stopped at the border. Our embassy in Norway sent a note to Oslo about the blockade of Russian settlements in the Svalbard archipelago, expressing the hope that it would be lifted.

Previously, cargo for the coal miners of Svalbard was delivered by land by road to the Norwegian port of Tromsø, and from there on Norwegian container ships to Barentsburg. Now, if the Norwegians do not unblock transit, the necessary cargo for the Russians working on the island will have to be delivered only by sea from Murmansk, which is much more difficult and expensive. In this situation, “KP” helped to sort out Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of MGIMO Lev Voronkov:

– First of all, as you know, sovereignty over Svalbard was transferred to Norway not because it became an integral part of Norway itself, but in order to fulfill the content of the Svalbard Treaty, which was concluded in Paris in 1920, Russia joined it a little later . Norway was given sovereignty over the island on the terms of this agreement, it is obliged to fulfill it. Therefore, if Norway begins to act in violation of this treaty, then the countries that have concluded it, in principle, have the right to cancel the transfer of sovereignty over these islands to Norway.

The blocking of Russian cargo is a clear violation of the conditions prescribed in the contract, but far from the only one. The treaty was concluded long before the conclusion of the Geneva Accords on the international law of the sea, explains Lev Voronkov, then there was no legal concept of a shelf, a special economic zone. But at the turn of the century, Norway began to assert that Svalbard, it turns out, has both a Norwegian shelf and a fishing protection zone that mimics an exclusive economic zone. Two years ago, on the occasion of the centenary of the Svalbard treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Norway to comply with the relevant agreements, to which, in a completely unacceptable form and at a very low level, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry replied that “we do not discuss our sovereignty” with other countries.

– In fact, they refused to discuss the content of the treaty with the countries that signed it. Therefore, why shouldn’t Russia, for example, initiate a meeting of the parties to the Svalbard Treaty to discuss how Norway is implementing this treaty? Lev Voronkov.

– But among them, probably, now most of the allies of Norway?

– In terms of both the buffer zone and other free interpretation by Norway of its rights in Svalbard, the vast majority of the signatory countries do not share Oslo’s position. The fish protection zone, unilaterally declared in Norway, is supported only by Canada and Finland, and there are more than fifty participants in the agreement.

– As an option to bypass the Norwegian ban on our transit, they call the direct delivery of goods from Murmansk. Can this also be prevented? Let’s say they block Svalbard with their Navy.

– But Russia will certainly send its ships under the protection of the ships of the Russian navy. Here, of course, you can flex your muscles, but I’m afraid that this game will not be in favor of Norway. After all, the Norwegians had already arrested Russian ships before, and the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation was also not excluded then. But, in my opinion, it would be important to consult the states parties to the treaty on how correctly Norway, which has been granted sovereignty over Svalbard, is implementing this treaty, and to make changes to it that should be binding on Oslo. Even the designation of such an intention would be a sobering shower for those who interpret this agreement exclusively in their own favor.

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