Russia wants Barentsburg food supplies shipped via mainland Norway
The food could have been shipped directly to Barentsburg from the port of Murmansk. Instead, the two containers were sent by truck towards the port of Tromsø in northern Norway from where they were supposed to be transported onboard a Norwegian cargo boat to Svalbard.
The truck, however, was stopped at Storskog, the land-border checkpoint at the only road between the two countries, reports E24, a Norwegian business online.
It was in late April Norway closed its seaports and land border for Russian cargo traffic under the EU’s 5th package of sanctions.
Aleksandr Veselov is chief of Trust Arktigugol, the Russian state-owned company in charge of all businesses in Barentsburg. He writes in a letter to the Governor of Svalbard that Norway should exempt food supplies from the sanctions, the E24 reports.
If the border-crossing problems continue, and preparation for the winter season is affected, this could cause a “humanitarian emergency,” Veselov writes in the letter.
Some 400 Russians and Ukrainians live in Barentsburg. Svalbard is under full Norwegian sovereignty, but according to a 1925 treaty, all signatory countries are granted non-discriminatory rights to fishing, hunting and exploring mineral resources. For Russia, that means coal mining.
Russia’s Consul General in Barentsburg, Sergei Gustshin, says to E24 that there is no immediate crisis. “There is no shortage of food now.”
The request from the Russian diplomates to open for food supplies is sent to Norway’s Foreign Ministry.
Also the diplomates themself are currently traveling to Svalbard via the land border at Storskog as all aviation between Russia and Western Europe has stopped. In Norway, Russia has a Consulate General in Kirkenes and in Barentsburg, in addition to the Embassy in Oslo.
More photos from Barentsburg are in the gallery below.