One thing’s certain: somebody’s committing what is being called a “gross provocation” involving illegal military might in Svalbard. The question is whether it involves actual military – specifically, Russian special forces supposedly occupying Svalbard and mainland Norway recently – or the news organization falsely reporting the latest in a series of stories about simulated invasions of the archipelago.
The news website AldriMer (an anti-war publication whose name means “Never Again”) published an article last week citing Norwegian intelligence and NATO sources who declared Russian special forces were allegedly spotted in Svalbard participating training exercises for sabotage and war scenarios. Some of the anonymous sources also stated Russians, acting under the guise of civilians, allegedly scouted the area and studied important infrastructure.
The Russian Embassy in Norway called the report “nothing but a gross provocation.”
“We consider the publication as part of the systematic work being carried out in certain circles in Norway to paint Russia in the image of the enemy,” the embassy declared in a post on its Facebook page.
Norway’s Defense Ministry declined to comment, aside from suggesting soldiers might be associated with a weeklong drill in early August that took place in the Baltic, the Norwegian and North Seas. The stated goal of the drills was to train inter-fleet cooperation.