Russia claims “deliberate escalation of hostility” after Norway expels intel officers

Maria Zakharova is spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova comments on Norway’s expulsion of 15 intelligence officers

“We see this decision as a deliberate escalation of hostility towards Russia,” Zakharova says in statement on Friday, the day after Norway expelled an unprecedentedly high number of members of the Russian diplomatic mission in Oslo.

According to the spokeswoman, the expulsion comes after a “fake news campaign” initiated by Norwegian media and aimed against Russian intelligence.

“There can be no doubt that media disinformation fed by national authorities and special services and influenced from abroad was a carefully planned action aimed at a further deterioration of relations with Russia,” she underlines.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has not yet made clear what will be its response. But Zakharova underlines that the decision by Oslo is a “serious blow to Russian-Norwegian contacts.”

“The actions will not be left without a reaction from our side, there will be a tough response,” she warns.

“Russia poses the biggest intelligence threat to Norway”

Norway’s decision to expel 15 intelligence officers from the Russian Embassy in Oslo is unprecedented. The Nordic country has never before expelled such a high number of workers at a diplomatic mission. According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, the expulsion comes as intelligence threats from Russia are reaching an unprecedented level.

“This is an important measure to counter and reduce the extent of Russian intelligence activity in Norway and thus secure our national interests,” Foreign Minister Huitfeldt said in a comment.

Norway will not allow Russian intelligence officers to operate in Norway under diplomatic cover, the minister underlined.

“Russia poses the biggest intelligence threat to Norway. We look at the situation with concern and now take measures to counter Russian intelligence activity in Norway.”

Related stories from around the North: 

CanadaInt’l arctic cooperation needs to continue despite rupture with Russia: Canada’s GG,The Canadian Press

FinlandRussian cyber attacks, espionage pose growing threat to Finnish national security, Yle news

Greenland: Growing focus on Arctic puts Greenland at higher risk of cyber attacks: assessment, Eye on the Arctic

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

Norway: Suspected Arctic spy researcher José (37) is GRU-linked Mikhail (44), The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian Arctic rescue exercise attended by observers from Iran and Saudi Arabia, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish armed forces ready and waiting to join NATO as Finland becomes member, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. nominates Alaskan as first Arctic ambassador, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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