Norway's observation post on the coast to the Barents Sea with the border to Russia beneath. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

FSB stopped first boat refugees en route to Norway in the north

After the Arctic Route migrant wave in 2015, there have been several attempts by third-country residents to illegally cross the land border between Russia and Norway, but this is likely the first time someone tried to enter Schengen-Europa via the Barents Sea.
April 21, 2020


The attempt happened on October 8th, 2019, but first became known to the public today as the verdict from the Pechenga District Court was announced by the prosecutor’s office of the Murmansk region.

It was three Syrian citizens that boarded a small motorboat in Devkina Zavod Bay in the Pechenga fjord and departed from the coast towards the maritime border with Norway.

In court, all three pleaded guilty as charged on conspiracy to get to Norway without proper permission and documents.

Liinakhamari (Devkina Zavod Bay) in the Pechenga fjord is the westernmost fjord on Russia’s Kola Peninsula and the only place between Murmansk and the state border were civilians can reach the coast without entering military restricted areas.

Liinakhamari is a restricted border area, but not under military naval authority.

While out at sea, the motorboat was stopped by Russia’s FSB coastal border guards, and the three were arrested.

At sea, the distance from Liinakhamari to the Russian-Norwegian border in Grense Jakobselv is some 35 kilometers (19 Nautical Miles).


It has never happened that any illegal migrants have succeeded in entering Norway in the north from the seaside.

Two of the Syrian citizens were sentenced to 10 months imprisonment in a penal colony, while the third has to spend eight months.

Maritime border 

In Norway, it is the Police that is in charge of migration and external border control, but the Coast Guard can assist if getting authorization from the police.

The Norwegian Coast Guard vessel “KV Farm” is patrolling the maritime border areas of the Barents Sea. Here with Grense Jakobselv and Russia in the horizon. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Following the migrant crisis in autumn 2015, when some 5,500 people entered Norway from Russia in the north, there have been several attempts by third-country residents to make it over the 200 km long land border.

Especially during autumn 2017, many were arrested on the Russian side. 

In September 2017, three Afghans were arrested. In August 2017, a Syrian citizen was arrested after he climbed through the barbed wire fence. In July, two other Syrians made it through the fence but were detained before they reached the borderline. In June, four Moroccans were arrested and in March, two Iranians were halted.


Map: Barents Observer / Google Earth


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