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Is Russia eyeing a remote piece of NATO territory now?

A Russian minister has paid an unannounced visit to Norwegian owned Svalbard, much to the Norwegian government’s annoyance.

But said Russian minister also seemed to be suggesting Norway does not really have sovereignty over Svalbard. However that is not really what the Svalbard Treaty says, not that the Kremlin is known for worrying over much about such niceties.

First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Kalashnikov contested the full sovereignty of Norway to Svalbard. Norway previously demanded an explanation after a visit to the archipelago Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is part of the EU sanctions list

Under the Svalbard Treaty the peninsula is not supposed to host bases but is not actually ‘demilitarised’ as such, so now might be a nice time for the Norwegian army to send a company on an extended posting up north.

17 comments to Is Russia eyeing a remote piece of NATO territory now?

  • Presumably they will send in lots of advisors under the non-discrimination clause:

    Non-discrimination: All citizens and all companies of every nation under the treaty are allowed to become residents and to have access to Svalbard including the right to fish, hunt or undertake any kind of maritime, industrial, mining or trade activity. The residents of Svalbard must follow Norwegian law though Norwegian authority cannot discriminate against or favor any residents of any given nationality.

    I personally don’t think Norway should be left with the burden of all of the costs of defending Svalbard, it would be better to have NATO send a rotating contingent under Norwegian command. Certainly British soldiers could benefit from deployment and survival in Arctic conditions, especially with Russian territorial claims across the region.

    Maybe they could get the King of the Ice Bears involved in the Treaty as well 🙂

  • Roue le Jour


    Heh, I was going to make a panzerbjorn joke as well but then I did a bit of reading and you’re quite right, this a serious matter and needs to be dealt with accordingly.

  • Regional

    When Europe hands Svalbard over to the Russians they should deploy Tu-95 Nuclear Bombers there. Remember how Europe gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler and he got enough equipment for 44 infantry divisions. Czech tanks played a big part in the invasion of Poland and the Czech armaments industry were big suppliers to Hitler. Expect the Press to betray you.

  • Roue le Jour

    Reading it back that sounds a bit flippant so to be clear, I entirely agree with John’s suggestion that Svarlsbard should be preemptively defendend by NATO as a whole.

    Maybe they’ve stopped doing it now but I recall that the British army does do exercises in Norway?

  • Mr Ed

    First Deputy Chairman

    As Soviet a job title as one might find.

    Iirc, the Soviets maintained a colony on Spitzbergen, as I shall call it, during the Cold War and undertook mining as the overt reason for being there. The Russian presence is not new, nor are the ‘games’ that they play.

    There is no ‘NATO territory’, there is only territory protected by the members of NATO.

    Roue, iirc, the Royal Marines have/had a Mountain & Arctic Warfare Cadre, who these days probably train, for budgetary reasons, in supernarket warehouse freezers, saving money for pork barrel defence spending and MoD fartaround civil servants to enjoy final salary pensions.

  • M2P

    The Soviets had a big “coal mining” station there in the Cold War – there’s an interesting description of it in Tim Moore’s book “Frost On My Moustache”.

    I’ve not read the treaty, but the point in the Cold War was that it’s administered by Norway but anyone who sets up shop there can do so, assuming they have sufficiently large-bore guns to fend off the polar bears.

  • There is no ‘NATO territory’, there is only territory protected by the members of NATO.

    Then there is no national territory either, only territory protected by national armies 😛

  • Mr Ed

    I’m not sure that applies to Liechtenstein, Costa Rica and Monaco! The point is that NATO is not a country or state, unlike Russia, or the Soviet Union, and even the Warsaw Pact, as under that Treaty a member of the Pact had its military legally subordinate to a Deputy Defence Minister of the USSR. NATO has no claims on anyone’s territory. NATO Is a free association of countries, any member may leave at any time, although Luxembourg’s departure would not change much.

    As to whether or not there are nations, it seems to me that there are such things, even if they are voluntaristic concepts.

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed Perry. Norway should put troops into the areas at once – and there should be back up from other NATO members.

    However, John Galt is also correct.

    The “non discrimination” clause of the treaty.

    If a nation can not keep people out of the land then it will simply be overwhelmed.

    Why not just send lots of Russian citizens to become “residents” – Norwegian law would still be place, but it would be theoretical (in practice Putin would control the place – and the mineral resources).

    This is a general point that libertarians should consider.

    Without immigration control this area is Russian.

    And without immigration control the United States just becomes an extension of Latin American – with the only check on “Social Justice” supporting elected regimes being military coups. There is a reason who Comrade Barack Obama and co are in favour of all these “undocumented immigrants” and it is not compassion. It is their voting power – California and so on are already giving them drivers licences “Motor Voter”.

    And without immigration control Europe (including the United Kingdom) just becomes an extension of Africa and the Middle East.

    And Australia simply becomes an extension of Indonesia.

    And Israel becomes an extension of the Islamic world.

    And on and on.

    If a policy does not work in practice holding to it because of ideological purity concerns, is turning a political philosophy into a suicide pact.

    However, I will put the above in terms consistent with libertarian doctrine.

    If migrants reject the non aggression principle and intend to transfer the places they are going to, then it is an act of self defence to keep them out.

    Should, for example, someone in Mexico sincerely want to be an American then they should indeed be welcomed.

    When they have shown their loyalty – for example by years of service in the United States Armed Forces (having taken the oath to the Constitution of the United States – i.e. a formal REJECTION of the doctrine of “Social Justice” which is taught from the church pulpits in Latin America just as much as it is taught from the schools and universities).

    Waving the Mexican flag, declaring that large areas of the United States are “really” justly part of Mexico, and (above all) expressing support for “Social Justice” (the Class War doctrine that all income and wealth should be owned by the collective “people” and “distributed” to the advantage of “the poor”) – this is an open declaration of war. Such a person is not a peaceful migrant.

    As for immigrants into European nations – only lunatics (such as the leader of the Green Party – and her Islamist deputy) think there are two few Islamists in Europe and that we should import more.

    Green Party in more ways than one.

  • Mr Ed

    Latin American – with the only check on “Social Justice” supporting elected regimes being military coups.

    And of course, not even then, plenty of LatAm coups have been made by military of the Left, opportunists who had their own plans. Chavez was but one.

  • PeterT

    If you reconsider public space (including all the roads etc) as private property where management is merely being delegated to the state, then it should not be hard to rationalise restrictions on immigration, even for a libertarian. Clearly it would be better if we just did away with public space as a concept – but it ain’t going to happen.

    Svalbard? It won’t be long until the SNP leases Scapa flow to the Russians. They have to pay the salaries of the children’s ‘state guardians’ somehow after all. (aside: I find it deeply satisfying that hot on the heels of the SNP’s financial plans being laid to ruins by the collapsing oil price, a massive oil field is found in Surrey.)

    But yes, send troops to Svalbard. Whilst Russia will not last long with their demographic trends, they will no doubt be able to remain a pain in the neck for a couple of decades. Better prepare accordingly.

    Alternatively we could send some of our Social Justice Warriors to Svalbard in order to bolster the (non-Russian) population. The polar bears will come as a surprise to them. “Bearded man killed after trying to strap a life vest to a polar bear”

  • It won’t be long until the SNP leases Scapa flow to the Russians

    That assumes Russia will have the money to afford to actually sail anything much to Scarpa Flow in a few years 😉

  • KTWO

    I thought all nations with remote possessions, such as barren islands, occupied them briefly each year to remind others of who owned what.
    But maybe not.

    This seems a fine mess and it should be sorted out now, delay always makes things worse.

    Nonsense like “anyone can use it but it belongs to us” is simply irresponsible government by any definition. There is a lot of it.

  • occupied them briefly each year to remind others of who owned what.

    There are about 2,600 inhabitants, 3/4 of whom are Norwegian apparently.

  • Mr Ed

    Norway might be the most extensive country in terms of where its northerly and southerly points are, what with Bouvet Island and Spitzbergen.


    Some decent chaps camp on Rockall for a while every few years to ‘maintain’ the UK’s claim, and there is some principle of international law, iirc, that rocks that cannot support human habitation cannot be counted as territory for economic zones etc.

  • Andrew Duffin

    How interesting that the Russian minister’s name is Kalashnikov.

    Any relation, I wonder? It wouldn’t be surprising – socialists are as keen on neoptism as the rest of us (See the Benns, the Kinnocks, etc etc)

  • Mr Ed

    Well looking back now, the BBC is airing the Red Army rapes… A tiny bit of anti-Soviet agitation at last.