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Norway Wants Answers as Sanctioned Russian Official Enters Country

The Norwegian government demanded Moscow explain why and how Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin visited the Svalbard Islands.

The government adopted European Union sanctions, even though they are not a member, after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014. The sanctions make it illegal for Rogozin to enter Norweigian territory.

The EU banned numerous Russian officials after the annexation.

“We have earlier this spring clearly expressed to the Russian embassy in Oslo that people on the list are not wanted in Svalbard,” stated Norway’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Frode Andersen. “It is therefore regrettable that Rogozin has been on Svalbard.”

Rogozin, who is very active on social media, posted pictures of his trip on Twitter and Facebook. He visited Barentsburg, a mining town, and then headed to the North Pole “for the launch of a Russian polar station.” He even included a jab at Ukraine in one tweet.

“This reaction is puzzling,” claimed Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevicj. “It is inexplicable and absurd from the point of view of international law. Article 3 of the Treaty on Svalbard in 1920 provided free access to the archipelago of the citizens of the Parties to the Treaty. These unilateral sanctions can not cancel this position.”

The treaty gives “Norway sovereignty but allows other signatories, including Russia, residence and commercial rights.” Barentsburg is a mining town founded in the Soviet era.

Rogozin is not one to shy away from controversy. He took to his Russian Twitter account to joke about Norway’s concerns.

Translation: They’re just jealous we swam to the North Pole.

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