Arctic island access dispute sees Russia threaten retaliation against Norway

Russia has said that restrictions imposed by Norway had been blocking the supply of goods to Russian-populated settlements on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.

On June 29th it threatened unspecified acts of retaliation unless the issue was resolved by Norway.

Svalbard is part of Norway, but Russia has the right to exploit the archipelago’s natural resources under a treaty signed in 1920. Some settlements there are populated mainly by Russians.

Norway is not in the EU but is applying EU sanctions against Russia, has said that the sanctions would not affect the transport of goods by ship to Svalbard. However, Russia has noted that much of the freight Russian settlements on Svalbard pass first through a checkpoint into mainland Norway, and that is closed to sanctioned goods.

The Russian foreign ministry said that it had summoned Norway’s chargé d’affaires to protest against the restrictions, which it said had disrupted the delivery of critical supplies, including food and medical equipment.

It described the situation as unacceptable and warned that such “unfriendly” actions against Russia would lead to “retaliatory measures”.