Norwegian soldiers crossed border to Finland

Norwegian border guards riding snowmobiles. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)
An incident during which Norwegian solidiers crossed border to Finland took place in the northern part of Enontekiö municipality, where Finland borders northern Norway, the Finnish Border Guard informs. A short note tells that the soldiers unauthorized border crossings took place last Thursday, but was made public a week later.

The snowmobile ride on the Finnish side of the border lasted for about a kilometre and the soldiers were at a maximum of 400 meters into the territory of their eastern neighbour.

Norwegian and Finnish authorities are now investigating the case, which first was informed to the Finns by Norwegian military officials. The two countries share a 736 kilometres long border in the north.

Spokesperson Major Brynjar Stordal with the Norwegian Joint Headquarters confirms the soldiers border crossing.

“A Norwegian patrol on snowmobiles was on the wrong navigation path last Thursday, so they entered the Finnish side of the border by a few hundred metres,” Stordal tells to the Barents Observer.

He says the patrol reported the incident to the Headquarters, who again informed Finnish authorities via diplomatic channels.

Stordal underlines that Norway and Finland have a well known good relationship, including military joint trainings.

Oil money and asthma medication

It is not everyday soldiers from a NATO country makes unauthorized entry and the case has naturally got coverage in Finnish national media, both by state broadcaster YLE and news agency STT. Additionally, Finns have started to joke about the case on twitter.

“We should surrender unconditionally just to get access to the Norwegian know-how on asthma medication,” one ironic tweet reads hinting to Norway’s cross-country skiers’ luggage of asthma drugs when going to the latest Olympics in PyeongChang.

Another tweet follows up: “Not to mention access to Norway’s oil money! Surrendering to Norwegians would mean the end to all our money troubles.”

A third tweet welcomes NATO membership.

Defense ministers meeting

While the incident is under investigation in the north, Norway’s Defense ministers Frank Bakke-Jensen met with Jukka Juusti, Finland’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defense in Bergen, Norway together with the other Nordic ministers to discuss joint military cooperation in times of a more unpredictable security situation globally.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Surveillance and search and rescue top Canada’s Arctic defence prioritiesRadio Canada International

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

Norway: «This border checkpoint to Russia should be open 24/7» – top Norwegian transport officials, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  Tougher measures against extremism and terrorism needed on Norway and Finland borders, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden faces criticism over border controls, Radio Sweden

United States:  Trump signs defense bill to allow more missile interceptors in Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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