The Norwegian foreign ministry has decided to block transport of supplies to the Russian settlement Barentsburg on Svalbard, or Spitzbergen, as the island is also called. The Russian foreign ministry has threatened retaliatory action. This is in essence very much the same situation as the one in Kaliningrad. The 400 people living in Polar conditions in Barentsburg are completely cut off from the world and depend on regular food and medical supplies from Russia, supplies that have now been blocked.
This move on the part of Norway will not harm Russia financially or militarily. It will merely – unless Russia retaliates – harm 400 innocent people in Barentsburg. Only Norway’s former Prime Minister, Secretary General Rocky, could possibly consider this move useful from a strategic point of view: If Russia does retaliate, if Russia sends warships to Svalbard to supply its community there, would that not constitute belligerent action against a NATO member and would that not constitute an excuse to attack Russia?
When I wrote my previous post, I was not aware of this situation. I did not know that Norway had replaced a long tradition of cordial relations with Russia with one of reckless provocation.
Hardly no mention of this matter has been made in the Norwegian press, which is starting to remind me of the Russian press in reverse, as it were. Likewise, the New York Times – always loyal to the currently Neocon Democratic Party – has made no mention of the matter. In other countries’ news outlets, however, it is at least considered worth mentioning. See discussion in Le Monde, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post (true, only in Spanish) and the French state-owned France24.
For those of you who read Norwegian, I eventually found a link from the northernmost local department of the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK). People not living in that area, i.e. the county neighbouring Russia – a county in which attitudes to Russia have been not only cordial but warm ever since Russia liberated Finmark from the Germans in 1945 – will not normally have seen that link.
I repeat: NATO is not protecting us, not defending us. Over the past decade, and under the leadership of USA, NATO has played a very insolent game, presumably in the hope that Russia would crawl under the table. There has been little real diplomacy and, in the face of growing Islamist terrorism, surprisingly little cooperation with regard to issues which threaten us all. Instead there have been provocations, the aim of which appears to have been to enter into a duel to the death, as it were, between powers. Europe has everything to lose by heading Stoltenberg’s summons.