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Top Russian official in charge of Arctic policy is in Svalbard despite ban by Norway for his role in Ukraine crisis

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A top Russian official who is among those credited/blamed for the Ukraine crisis is in Svalbard now, despite a ban by Norway, and preparing to visit a mass collection of troops north of the archipelgo in his new role as head of Russia’s Arctic policy.

The visit may end up being more than provocative as Norway now plans to consider stricter entry requirements to Svalbard.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin began posting a series of Twitter messages after arriving in Svalbard at about noon Saturday, according to Barents Observer. The first merely stated he arrived – although how isn’t certain – but a subsequent message five hours later from the Russian mining community of Barentsburg was more provocative.

“Here Russian and Ukrainian miners live as one people, one faith, and labor,” he wrote.

After touring Svalbard, Rogozin is scheduled to visit military troops conducting extreme weather exercises at a camp on an ice floe near the North Pole. Russia typically hosts such a camp annually for tourist expeditions and scientists, but this year opted for two camps emphasizing military and science – two areas Russia is increasing focusing on as it seeks to expand its Arctic presence.

Norwegian officials, who were unaware of Rogozin’s visit until contacted by the media, are demanding an explanation and considering stricter measures for entry into the archipelago, the news agency reported. It possible he bypassed security checks in Norway by taking a charter flight directly from Russia to Longyearbyen – which are common when the ice camps at the North Pole are operating – since passport and similar security checks are not required due to the Svalbard Treaty.

“We have clearly expressed to the Russian Embassy in Oslo that listed people are not wanted on Svalbard,” said Frode Andersen, head of communications for the Foreign Ministry.

Rogozin, deputy prime minister since 2011, was one of seven top Russian officials sanctioned by U.S. President Barrack Obama following the Crimean referendum in March of 2014, with the EU and other countries following suit.

Russia has increasingly and aggressively been provoking Svalbard and other foreign Arctic areas recently with military activity include voyages by nuclear subs and fighter jets encroaching on airspace (including a recently incident near Bodø where the aircraft was reportedly carrying nuclear weapons). Rogozin gained wide notoriety in 2013 for a Twitter message he send in response to a complaint from Norway about such activity that declared “shiver, bourgeois! You’re done with!”

He was named earlier this year as the head of a new commission responsible for Russia’s security, economic and social issues in the Arctic.

About Post Author

Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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