The Russian government has declared Norway as an “unfriendly country” and has imposed a maximum limit on the number of local employees at the Norwegian embassy and consulates in Russia. This move comes after the Cabinet of Ministers released a new “blacklist” of countries considered unfriendly. Norway is now restricted to having a maximum of 27 employees in Russia. nonetheless, it is important to note that the limit applies to local employees and not Norwegian diplomats. This latest development further strains the diplomatic relations between the two countries, with Norway denying any unfriendly acts towards Russia and attributing the situation to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. In this article, we explore the implications of this decision and its symbolic significance.
Russia declares Norway an “unfriendly country”. Now they set a maximum limit on local employees at the Norwegian embassy and consulates in Russia
Norway can have a maximum of 27 employees in Russia.
It happens after the Cabinet of Ministers on Thursday came up with a new “blacklist” of countries they see as unfriendly.
– The government has included Norway on the list of foreign states that commit unfriendly acts against Russian diplomatic and consular missions abroad, writes the Russian government on its website.
According to VG’s action, the limit should apply to local employees and not Norwegian diplomats.
Huitfeldt: – No surprise
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the matter, but has not yet received official information from the Russian authorities, writes press spokesperson Ane Haavardsdatter Lunde in an e-mail to VG.
– This is no surprise, but there is no basis for claiming that Norway is acting unfriendly towards Russia. Today’s situation is due to Russia’s war against Ukraine. Russia can itself choose to end the war, writes Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt (Ap) in an e-mail to VG.
– As neighboring countries, we both have an interest in functioning diplomatic relations and channels for contact, not least in demanding times, adds Huitfeldt.
Norway is present in Russia with an embassy in Moscow and a consulate general in St. Petersburg.
Also in March 2022, Norway was declared an unfriendly country by Russia. At the time, there was talk of “countries committing unfriendly acts against Russia, its companies and citizens”, writes NTB.
At that time, nonetheless, they did not set a ceiling on the number of employees.
– You just have to count on this. It is strange that Norway has not been added to this list before. Norway has said where it stands, then you have to expect this type of reaction, says Russia and Ukraine expert Jakub M. Godzimirski at NUPI.
He says that in the past there was a notion that the northern regions and cooperation in the Arctic were spared this type of negative influence.
– Now this time is over. Now there is no longer anything to suggest that what Russia does does not have an impact on relations further north, points out Godzimirski.
He regards the decision as more symbolic, and believes it will have few practical consequences.
– It has symbolic consequences in that we are defined as hostile. It has been over 500 days since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Norway has taken a very clear position from day one.
– Very many Norwegian diplomats were expelled after Norway expelled Russian intelligence agents. There is not much to catch up on the Russian side.
He believes the consequences for Norway will be small.
– The economic interactions between Norway and Russia are not that extensive. Both are major oil and gas nations, there is not much to exchange.
More countries on the list
In May 2021, restrictions were introduced against the USA and the Czech Republic. In July 2022, Greece, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia and Slovakia received the same restrictions.
Russia emphasizes that the list is not final as long as the “hostile actions” against the country continue. The list can therefore be expanded with even more countries.
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