Moscow expells senior Norwegian diplomat

The Norwegian embassy in Moscow. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Ambassador Rune Resaland on Friday got the message from the Russian Foreign Ministry that one of his senior staff will have to leave Russia in the course of 72 hours.

The expulsion comes as a response to Norway’s expulsion of Aleksandr Stekolshchikov, the Deputy Head of the Russian trade mission in Oslo.

“In connection with the unfriendly act of Norwegian authorities announced on the 18th August when a Russian diplomat was made persona non grata, Norwegian Ambassador in Moscow Rune Resaland was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be informed that a senior Norwegian diplomat at the Norwegian Embassy is also made persona non grata,” a statement from the Russian ministry reads.

According to NRK, it is embassy Counsellor Jan Flæte that now has to leave the Russian capital. The diplomatic rang of Flæte is believed to be significantly higher than the one of Aleksandr Stekolshchikov and his expulsion is consequently seen by the Norwegian side as an escalation of the situation.

According to the Russian ministry, Norway’s “destructive line” will inevitably have negative impact on bilateral relations.

“The responsibility for the consequences of such a policy fully lies in Oslo,” the Ministry underlines.

Aleksandr Stekolshchikov was expelled from Norway after he was caught redhanded in espionage activity.

The embassy trade representative reportedly received secret information from Norwegian citizen Harsharn Singh Tathgar. The two men were taken by suprise by police during a meeting in a cafe in Oslo.

Tathgar originally comes from India and has since 2012 been employed in the energy division of DNV GL.

His field of work is within 3D printing.

Related stories from around the North

Canada: Canada’s long-term neglect of Arctic must stop, says Senate report, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark: Denmark, U.S. affirm need to ‘maintain and build situational awareness’ in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland and Russia discuss cooperation between Arctic and Barents structures, The Independent Barents Observer

Iceland: Nordics should aim for common approach to China’s Arctic involvement says report, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norwegian police arrests citizen suspected of selling state secrets to Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Two Chinese rigs prepare for drilling in Russian Arctic waters, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s FM calls for more EU involvement in Arctic as country hosts EU Arctic Forum, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. wants to keep the Arctic an area of low tensions, top official, Radio Canada International

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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