Friday, July 1, 2022

Russia doesn’t want escalation regarding Spitsbergen, hopes for common sense in Oslo — MFA - TASS

Russia can’t ignore the moves by Norway to block the delivery of cargoes to Spitsbergen but is hoping Oslo will display common sense and will prevent an escalation, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador-at-Large Nikolay Korchunov told TASS on Friday.

"We don’t want and wouldn’t want Spitsbergen to turn into a zone of tension instead of a zone of cooperation. This is not our choice," Korchunov said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum.

Speaking about what Moscow will do next in response to Oslo's actions, the diplomat said, "Naturally, this cannot be ignored." According to him, these moves "cannot but complicate the situation in the region." He also said Norway’s steps were "unprecedented."

"I hope that common sense will prevail among our northern neighbors and, without damage to relations and increased tensions in high latitudes, a solution will be found that would allow us to conduct activities and work there in accordance with the rights that arise from the relevant convention regarding Spitsbergen dating back to 1920," Korchunov said.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow was hoping for a prompt response by Oslo to an official inquiry on the situation with Spitsbergen, which was sent immediately after the incident occurred.

On June 29, the charge d'affaires of Norway in Russia was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, and was told that situation around the delivery of goods to Spitsbergen was unacceptable as Norway blocked the transit of cargoes intended for the state-owned Arktikugol coal mining company.

As a result of Norwegian restrictions on freight transportation by Russian trucking companies, which were introduced in April, goods that are critical for the operation of the company and a Russian consulate on the island were stranded on the Russian-Norwegian border, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The goods include food, medical supplies, building materials and spare parts for motor vehicles.

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