Russian Embassy denies accusations of influence operations in Norway

“As normal there are no evidence, just general speculations.”

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - February 14, 2020
The Russian Trade Representation in Oslo, located with the Embassy. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

On Monday, Norway’s Intelligence Service said Russia tries to fuel discord between the north and the south of the country. “Kremlin seeks to exploit any issue that can create split,” Intelligence Director Lieutenant General Morten Haga Lunde said.

[Russian influence operations work to fuel disagreements between north and south in Norway, says report]

Russia now denies accusations of interference in Norway. In an email to the Barents Observer, the Russian Embassy in Oslo states that its activities are conducted in strict accordance with the norms of international law, the “same rules as followed by the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow.”

The embassy says the accusations against Russia of influence operations, as raised by the Intelligence Service, are similar to the accusations coming from the Norwegian Police Security Service.

“As normal there are no evidence, just general speculations.”

The embassy underlines that it share the views by the intelligence service of Norway when it comes to Russia’s work for a broader bilateral dialogue, a path for promotion of lower tensions in the Arctic.

“This is a rare case when we agree with Norway’s defense minister Frank Bakke-Jensen that ‘good neighboring relations requires that both parties pay attention to each other.’”

In regards to Svalbard, Russia feels that it is being discriminated against on the archipelago.

Mutual respect is “exactly what lacks from the Norwegian side on Spitsbergen, where the problems are accumulating,” the embassy’s email to the Barents Observer reads.

Wants stability and predictability

“The Russian leadership seriously aims to maintain stability and predictability in the north, develop pragmatic cooperation with Norway, political contacts, regional cooperation and on state level, maintain the atmosphere that developed in October 2019 during our two countries celebration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of northern Norway by the Red Army.”

The embassy says, though, it is disappointing that the Norwegian-Russian business cooperation lacks dynamics, despite the positive outcome of the joint celebrations last October.

“This is something we will work to improve,” the embassy states.