The Vremya program tells about another international scandal involving Russia. The story is titled "Svalbard is blocked: Norway is covered by sanctions":
“Norway, which has been faithfully following the agreement on the Russian presence in the Svalbard archipelago for almost a hundred years, has decided to ban Russia from delivering goods there. The logistics are such that transportation can only go through the land border crossing. And there, since April 30, containers with the most necessary for 500 miners and scientists who work in the village of Barentsburg have been stuck. Norway refers to the sanctions, although earlier in Oslo they said that an exception was made for Svalbard.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation summoned Chargé d'Affaires of Norway in Russia - she was told that such steps were unacceptable. Moscow demands that Oslo resolve the issue as soon as possible. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that such unfriendly actions would lead to retaliatory measures.”
RIA Novosti headlined its material “The Foreign Ministry threatened to give an adequate response for violation of the Svalbard Treaty”:
“Consultations with the Norwegian side on the situation with the transport of goods to Russian settlements on Svalbard in Norway are underway, and an adequate response will be given to violations of agreements on the archipelago,” said Russian Consul General in Svalbard Sergey Gushchin.
Earlier it became known that Norway rejected the application of the Russian Federation for the passage of goods for Russian settlements on Svalbard through the only checkpoint on the Russian-Norwegian border Storskog.
“Consultations are now being held between the Russian and Norwegian sides, both in Moscow and in Oslo, on this issue, on the admission of cargo to Svalbard. Of course, I would not speculate about possible retaliatory measures on our part, but I want to say that any violations of the letter and spirit of the Svalbard Treaty of the 20th year in Norway - we will give an adequate response to these violations, ”said Gushchin in aired on the Russia 24 TV channel, answering a question about possible response measures.
Interfax reports on the statement of Senator Andrei Klishas:
"Following Norway's actions from now on, the sovereignty of this country over Svalbard is a big question."
The crux of the problem is this. In Norway's polar archipelago, Svalbard (Norwegians call it Svalbard), the Russian company Arktikugol is mining coal. The miners live in the village of Barentsburg, which is supplied by Akrtikugol.
Prior to the imposition of sanctions, food was transported by truck from Murmansk to the Norwegian port of Tromsø, from where the Norwegian cargo ship Bring goes to Svalbard every ten days. Now, with the entry into force of the fourth set of EU sanctions, Norway, which is not part of the EU, but has joined the sanctions, refuses to let goods through its territory. Russia considers this a violation of the international treaty on Svalbard and the blockade of the village, which is actually controlled by the Russian administration.
In fact, Norway complies with all the requirements of the treaty. Article 3 of the treaty states :
“The citizens of all the High Contracting Parties shall have equal liberty of access and entry, for any reason and for any purpose, into the waters, fjords and ports of the territories referred to in Article 1; subject to local laws and regulations, they may freely carry on all maritime, industrial, mining and commercial operations there on the basis of absolute equality.
They must be admitted under the same equal conditions to the exercise and practice of all maritime, industrial, mining and commercial enterprises both on land and in territorial waters, and no monopoly must be established on any basis or for any enterprise.
Notwithstanding any rules concerning coastal trade which may be in force in Norway, ships of the High Contracting Parties proceeding to or arriving from the territories referred to in Article 1 shall be entitled to call at Norwegian ports during their voyage in the opposite direction or in the opposite direction for the purpose of taking on board or disembarking passengers or cargo en route to or arriving from said territories, or for any other purpose.
In all respects, and especially in respect of exports, imports and traffic in transit, nationals of all High Contracting Parties, their ships and goods shall not be subject to any charges or restrictions which are not borne by citizens, ships or goods enjoying most favored nation treatment in Norway; Norwegian nationals, ships or goods shall, for this purpose, be treated as citizens, ships and goods of the other High Contracting Parties, and in no respect shall receive more favorable treatment.
In the export of any goods into the territory of any of the Contracting Powers, no charges or restrictions other or more onerous than those for the export of like goods into the territory of any other Contracting Power (including Norway) or to any other destination shall be levied."
All these points apply only to the territory of the archipelago, but not to mainland Norway. Russia does not interfere with the free entry of ships flying the Russian flag into the ports of Svalbard. Even the Consul General of Russia in Svalbard Sergey Gushchin, criticizing the decision of the Norwegian authorities, confirmed that the Arktikugol trust has other ways to deliver goods to Svalbard, that is, there is no transport blockade.
An alternative way of delivery is by sea transport directly from Murmansk. It is logistically less convenient and much more expensive. In addition, nothing prevents Arktikugol from buying everything they need in Norway or the EU countries. This is also associated with additional costs, but the point of economic sanctions is to create certain difficulties for a state that violates international law.
The Vremya program claims that Norway first promised to make an exception for Svalbard from the sanctions regime, but then abandoned this intention. This is not true either. At the beginning of May, Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Policy Björnar Skjerán stated:
"We are making an exception for Svalbard, as Svalbard has a special position."
This means that the ports of the archipelago remain open to Russian ships, which are no longer allowed to enter other ports in Norway. No one in Norway refuses this position. But the exception does not apply to the mainland, even if the cargo is destined for Svalbard.
RT, talking about the situation around Svalbard, is trying to create the impression of a complete blockade:
Miner Alexander Yatsunenko has been working at the Barentsburg coal mine since 2018. According to him, back in May, everyone on the island was waiting for the arrival of a large dry cargo ship from Murmansk. However, the ship did not come.
“There should have been not only food, but also household chemicals, spare parts for snowmobiles and thermal power plants. Our climate is harsh, equipment wears out, and the heating plant is the heart and stove of the village. And if Barentsburg can live without snowmobiles, then it won’t be possible without a heating plant, ”says Alexander RT.
But why the Russian dry cargo ship did not come, no one tries to explain. The Norwegian sanctions regime certainly does not interfere with this.