Norway angry with Russia over visit by Dmitry Rogozin despite travel ban | News | DW | 20.04.2015
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Norway angry with Russia over visit by Dmitry Rogozin despite travel ban

A diplomatic spat has evolved between Russia and Norway over the visit by Russia's deputy prime minister to the Svalbard archipelago. He is one of the 150 individuals banned over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict.

Norway says it has demanded that Moscow explain the visit by Dmitriy Rogozin, calling it "regrettable."

This spring Norway took the step of "clearly informing the Russian embassy in Oslo that people on the blacklist were not welcome in Svalbard," said foreign ministry spokesman, Frode Overland Andersen.

Rogozin is among around 150 Russians and Ukrainians placed under an EU travel ban over the Ukraine crisis. Norway is not an EU member, but has aligned itself with the bloc's sanctions against Russia.

Rogozin landed in Svalbard on a direct flight from Russia on Saturday and promptly used Twitter to announce his arrival.

"Our Station-2015. Anniversary of the 'Battle on the Ice' on Lake Chudskoe. But it's all quiet and as planned," wrote the Russian deputy prime minister.

Although Svalbard falls under Norwegian sovereignty, access to the archipelago is governed by a separate international treaty which allows everyone access.

The "Svalbard Treaty" of 1920, following World War One, allows all signatory countries equal rights to exploit natural resources there.

Russia has a coal mining settlement in Svalbard called Barentsburg, named after a Dutch explorer. It has been conducting mining operations since 1932 and maintains a consulate in Barentsburg, which is the northernmost diplomatic mission in the world.

Following Rogozin's trip the Norwegian government has now announced considering "reinforcing measures for travel to Svalbard."

rg/jil (AFP, AP)