Will Russian ruble’s fall spell trouble for cross-border shopping?

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Storskog checkpoint, Russia-Norway border. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Following the ruble crash in 2014, cross-border travel dropped by a third between Russia and Norway in the north. At the time, the ruble lost some 40-50% of its value compared with both the Norwegian kroner and the euro.

This week, the ruble is again plunging, following a fresh set of U.S. sanctions. Wednesday morning the euro exceeded 80 rubles, up from just under 71 by the end of last week. A Norwegian kroner can be bought for 7,9 rubles in most banks in Murmansk on Wednesday.

At Storskog, Norway’s border check-point to Russia’s Kola Peninsula, Police in charge of immigration control keeps track of statistics.

After the last ruble crash, month by month traffic was down 34% from January 2014 compared with the same month in 2015. Year-by-year, traffic was down 23,5%. Majority of border crossers are Russians driving for shopping in Kirkenes, the nearest town on the Norwegian side.

The Russian ruble has lost value due to U.S. sanctions. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Similar drop in border traffic was seen between Russia and Finland.

Traffic continued down with another 3,3% from 2015 to 2016, but then saw an increase of 12,6% from 2016 to 2017. So far this year, cross-border traffic at Storskog is down 1,3%.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: North American Arctic is failing compared to Russia, Nordics, warns think tank, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: In crisis, would Finland’s supplies be safe on Arctic rail near Russian border?, YLE News

Iceland: High peak in low season, Iceland’s mass-tourism boiling over, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: Murmansk-Oslo gets first ever flight link, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: With Arctic rush, Russia beats natural gas production records, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Nordic countries expel Russian diplomats, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: NATO wants to keep the Arctic an area of low tensions, Radio Canada International

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Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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