Norway hesitates on granting asylum to Russians fleeing army draft

Hundreds of military-age men fleeing mobilization entered Norway at Storskog border checkpoint late September 2022. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Russian citizens applying for asylum in Norway was up from 13 in 2021 to 294 in 2022.

Should Norway shelter the men fleeing Putin’s military mobilization order? Politicians are uncertain and the Directorate of Immigration is pausing decisions for those who came last fall and now apply for asylum.

In late September and early October last year, hundreds of young men flew north to leave Russia for Europe. When the call from the Kremlin came on September 21, Finland and Norway were the two last Schengen countries directly bordering Russia allowing entry for tourist visa holders.

On September 29, Helsinki decided to impose “significant entry restrictions” for tourist visa holders from Russia. Consequently, the last border crossing still open has since been Storskog in Norway’s north east corner.

The Directorate of Immigration figures do not specify reasons for applying for asylum in Norway, but comparing 2021 with 2022 gives a hint: up from 13 to 294.

Newspaper VG reports that immigration authorities now have paused decisions for Russian asylum seekers. The newspaper has talked with parliament members from several parties, most having an unclear answer about granting asylum or not.

With a tourist Schengen visa, Russians can stay in Europe for 90 days. That time frame has expired for those fleeing the mobilization in late September last year.

Meanwhile, reports about severe punishment for deserters and draft evaders are becoming more frequent as the Russian regime dives deeper into dark repression. Blocking asylum rights for Russians fleeing a war that is illegal could be a violation of international law.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Canada extends continental shelf claim, increasing overlaps with Russia in Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

FinlandHundreds of foreign soldiers join military exercise in Arctic Finland, The Independent Barents Observer

Greenland: Local company’s $3.95-billion U.S. arctic base contract “good news” says Greenland, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Police in Arctic Norway say helicopter now needed for border surveillance, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Strengthen border to Nordic countries, says secretary of Russia’s Security Council, The Independent Barents Observer

SwedenNorway, Finland, Sweden prioritize North in updated statement, Eye on the Arctic

United States: U.S. Coast Guard talks Arctic at recent summit, Eye on the Arctic

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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