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Norway Greenlights Blocked Goods for Russian Arctic Miners

The town of Barentsburg on the Svalbard archipelago. Bjoertvedt (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Norwegian authorities have allowed the passage of essential goods bound for Russian miners on the country's Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) reported Wednesday.

Russian officials last week voiced outrage at Norway’s decision to halt the passage of Russian goods, including foodstuffs, destined for the roughly 400 miners in the town of Barentsburg employed by Russian state coal mining company Arktikugol. The goods were stopped at the Norwegian-Russian land border due to Western sanctions on Russian shipping imposed after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Norway has now allowed the goods to continue on their journey to Barentsburg on a Norwegian truck, followed by a Norwegian ship.

“Two containers with goods for Barentsburg are currently on board a Norwegian ship that is headed from Tromsø to [Svalbard’s capital] Longyearbyen,” Ane Lunde, a spokesperson for Norway’s Foreign Ministry, told NRK. 

Lunde told NRK that Oslo never intended to put a complete stop to the shipments to Barentsburg and has remained in dialogue with its Russian counterparts over the course of the incident. 

“Due to sanctions, [the goods] couldn’t enter on the Russian-registered vehicle that they were on. [That’s why] a Norwegian carrier has transported them to Tromsø,” Lunde said. 

Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the upper-house Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, had accused Oslo of violating the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 and “principles of humanism.”

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