Crossings remained low in turbulent border year

Little traffic at Storskog checkpoint in times of both climate and political cold. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Norwegian immigration police summarize traffic for 2023, 30% growth, but far below pre-COVID levels.

In 2023, the Norwegian-Russian border saw 72,173 crossings, making a 30% increase compared with 2022, immigration police officer Sven Arne Davidsen says to the Barents Observer.

Figures, however, are not directly comparable as Russia maintained the border closed for most travelers until July 2022 for what was said to be preventive pandemic reasons.

The growth seen in second half of 2022 and first half of 2023 was soon reversed as tensions between Europa and Russia caused new restrictions.

In short, an iron-curtain returns:

  • A dramatic drop in Norwegians traveling to war-aggressive Russia.
  • Sanctions troubled vehicle insurance.
  • VISA and Mastercard suspended Russian operations.
  • Norway practically stopped issuing tourist travel visas to Russians.
  • No new visa-free travel permits were issued as Norway closed Consulate General in Murmansk.
  • Ban on Russian private cars entering Norway.
  • Norwegian food authorities closed Storskog for seafood import/export.

Consequently, traffic dropped dramatically by the end of 2023.

“December figures show there were 5,540 crossings at Storskog. This is 37,5% down compared with December 2022,” says Davidsen.

At its peak in 2013 the two countries counted more than 320,000 crossings on the road up north.

Related stories from around the North: 

Finland: Eleven Iranians arrested by Finnish border guards after illegal crossing from Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: Norway nixes border surveillance helicopter despite Murmansk migrant queues, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman blames Finland, West for border issues, Yle News

SwedenEU deploys additional border guards to Finland, Radio Sweden

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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