- We understand that Russia is a European power, but urge Moscow to make a commitment to the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from areas adjacent to European Union member states. We are thinking of areas like the Kaliningrad region and the Kola Peninsula, where there are still substantial numbers of these weapons, writes Sweden’s Carl Bildt and Poland’s Radek Sikorski in an up-ed in the New York Times.
They suggest such a withdrawal could be accompanied by the destruction of relevant storage facilities.
On the Kola Peninsula, storage facilities for naval tactical nuclear weapons exist. The actual numbers of such nuclear warheads are held secret and not accounted for in international treaties. The START treaty and the soon-to-come follow-up treaty only count strategic nuclear weapons.
In October last year, BarentsObserver was driving together with Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on the road that is passing near many of the Russian Northern fleet’s naval bases, not far from the site where tactical nuclear weapons are stored on the Kola Peninsula. The bus ride started in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes and continued to Murmansk, where Carl Bildt met his colleagues in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
The existence of tactical nuclear warheads on the Kola Peninsula that are not accounted for in international treaties were one of the issues in talk between BarentsObserver and the Swedish Foreign Minister.
Carl Bildt refers in his up-ed in the New York Times to a recent report by the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament that indicates that Russia holds around 2000 tactical warheads, the vast majority in the western part of the country.
A step-by-step increase up to SEK 5,5 billion will be added to the annual defense budget following the Ukraine crisis. The cash will partly come by cutting spending on environment and nuclear safety cooperation with Russia.
The president warns against hostile action and terrorism in the Arctic and says regional oil installations must be protected. At the same time, he signs a law, empowering oil companies to establish their own armed forces.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
More than 900 reindeer die of hunger on the Russian Arctic island of Kolguyev following a critical lack of available local pasturelands. The reindeer stocks in the area are too badly managed, regional authorities admit.
Three days processing of visa-applications is history. “Always apply at least 15 days prior to scheduled departure. Our processing time is 10 days,” says Marit Egholm Jacobsen, head of the visa section at Norway’s Consulate General in Murmansk.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.