Oslo’s military activity and NATO’s advance towards Russia’s borders could negatively affect the Arctic region, warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.
“It was emphasized that the buildup of military activity by Norway, the advancement of NATO infrastructure to our borders are fraught with negative consequences for the Arctic. The hope was expressed for the restoration of the traditional good-neighborliness between our countries, ”the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The document was released after ministerial talks via videoconference.
It is noted that Lavrov drew attention to the fact that the security situation in the Far North, including the border zone, is deteriorating.
“A complex of issues of bilateral relations was discussed, the state of which leaves much to be desired. Unsubstantiated accusations of Russia in “cyberattacks”, “spy scandals”, deterioration of the security situation in the Far North, including in the Russian-Norwegian border area, were stated, “the Russian ministry said.
The diplomats noted that the Russian Foreign Minister called on Oslo for dialogue and settlement of Moscow’s concerns related to the Norwegian side’s compliance with the obligations under the 1920 Svalbard Treaty.
In addition, the heads of the foreign affairs agencies of Russia and Norway touched upon the current agenda of the UN Security Council. Previously, Norway took over as a non-permanent member for 2021-2022. In particular, the parties discussed the political and humanitarian situation in Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and other countries.
“The positive dynamics of cooperation within the framework of regional formats was noted – the Council of the Barents / Euro-Arctic Region, which is currently chaired by Norway, as well as the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Northern Dimension. The Russian Federation is committed to active interaction with Norwegian partners through the Arctic Council, including taking into account the upcoming chairmanship of our country in this organization in 2021-2023, considering it as a key platform for making collective decisions on Arctic issues, “added in Russian Foreign Ministry.
In 2023, Russia will hand over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Norway.
At the same time, the parties noted that it is necessary to overcome the negative trend in trade and economic cooperation. They also drew attention to the fact that it is necessary to build up industry cooperation, taking into account the mutual interest of business circles and regions of the two countries.
As for the militarization of Norway, in November of this year, the official representative of the Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, pointed out that this state of affairs does not facilitate dialogue with Russia and does not eliminate tensions in Europe.
“After the outbreak of the crisis in 2014, Oslo on its own initiative curtailed all military ties with Russia. To date, we do not notice any signs of a desire to restore them, Norway continues to act in line with the sanctions policy of the West, actively participates in NATO military preparations, and is especially active in the immediate vicinity of our borders, ”she said.
Zakharova said that, in fact, on a permanent basis, the Norwegian authorities allow foreign troops to be stationed in the country. The composition of the foreign contingent, she said, is growing.
She stressed that the plans for the development of the Norwegian Armed Forces, the purchase of weapons, the modernization of the military infrastructure are taking place “absolutely in an anti-Russian manner.” “The number of exercises with the participation of foreign contingents is increasing, and what is especially surprising, according to the plot of these exercises, Russia appears as an adversary,” she added.
A spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry believes that Norway is becoming a springboard for NATO’s entry into the Arctic.