Residents in eastern Finland on Wednesday made a number of calls to emergency services over what they thought were emergency flares. The night sky over the Finnish-Russian borderlands was flared with bright colors similar to emergency lights, Yle reports.
It soon turned out that the light formations all came from the major ongoing air drills conducted this week by the Russian Air Force. As previously reported by BarentsObserver, strategic bombers and fighter aircrafts on the 19th March started up a major exercise in the clouds over Karelia, the region bordering Finland. More than 40 crews of Su-34, Su-27, Su-24M and MiG-31, several of them from Murmansk, were involved in the exercise which was aimed at fighting enemy aircrafts, ground facilities, as well as “interception of air targets of distant borders”.
The emergency calls came from the eastern Finnish towns of Imatra, Joensuu, Kuopio, Ilomantsi, Rantasalmi and Puumala. According to the southern Savo rescue services unit, the lights came from shots fired by the Russian aircrafts, Yle informs.
As the major exercises stirred concern along Finland’s eastern border, the country’s President Sauli Niinistö underline that “there are no national security concerns for Finland arising from the situation” in Ukraine and that that Finland will continue to nurse close political relations with Russia. While the EU has taken a strong stance against Russian expansionist actions in Ukraine, the Finnish political establishment has been reluctant to freeze relations with Moscow. “The line of communication with Moscow must be kept as open as possible”, Niinistö underlines in a press release.
“We are Russia’s neighbor [and] unlike other neighbours, we do not have Nato membership. Our neighbourly relationship is built on bilateral relations,” the Finnish President says to the Finnish broadcaster.
Norwegian state-owned coal mining company Store Norske on the Svalbard archipelago is in a serious situation because of low prices on coal. The company is now in dialogue with the State, employees and the bank to secure further operations in 2015.
What was the Barents Region’s only east-west flight, from Arkhangelsk to Tromsø via Murmansk, lacks permission and is no longer flying. Nordavia, however, hopes to see the Pskovaia operated aircraft soon landing in Tromsø again.
This abandoned polar hydrometrological station at Cape Menshikova on Novaya Zemlya can be declared a culture heritage site as Arkhangelsk authorities urge Moscow to include Arctic objects in the state register.
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Photographer Cristian Barnett traveled around the Arctic Circle, capturing life at 66° 33′ 44″ N. The result is his new book and traveling exhibition, Life on the Line. BarentsObserver spoke with Barnett about his impressions of life on the Circle and the decisions he made to capture it.
The Sami Council, which is an umbrella organization for Sami organizations in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, has agreed that there is a need for Sami to be present in the EU capital of Brussels and plans to establish an office there.