“I am a well-informed man, but had no idea how life Russians here on Svalbard have,” said Rogozin to the news agency TASS after his visit to Barentsburg on Saturday.
The Russian Deputy Prime Minister’s visit to Svalbard seemed well planned, but came as a big surprise to Norwegian authorities who have the sovereignty of the Arctic Archipelago. Dmitry Rogozin is listed among Russian and Ukrainian military and officials not wanted due to their direct involvement in destabilizing the situation in Eastern Ukraine.
Norway says Dmitry Rogozin is sanctioned because he has “publicly called for the annexation of Crimea.”
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry didn’t know about Rogozin’s “Tour-de-Spitsbergen” before being contacted by BarentsObserver.
“We have clearly expressed to the Russian embassy in Oslo that the listed people are not wanted on Svalbard,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Frode Andersen told BarentsObserver on Saturday evening.
While Norwegian officials were contacting Russian authorities asking for an explanation, Rogozin himself had already left Svalbard for the Russian scientific drifting ice-station North Pole-2015.
Around 20.00 Saturday evening, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin posted the following text from Longyearbyen airport on his Facebook profile: “Взлетаем. Через 2,5 часа сядем на льдине рядом с нашей полярной станцией” … or in English: “Take off. After 2.5 hours, sit on an ice floe near our polar station.” On Sunday, the TV news channel Rossiya 24 showed film of Rogozin and his team coming out of the An-74 aircraft that brought them to the Arctic sea-ice.
Together with the Governor of Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Igor Koshin, Minister of Natural Resources Sergey Donskoy and Minister of Economic Developmet Aleksey Ulyukayev, Dmitry Rogozin made the official opening of the research station on the drifting ice in the High Arctic, the press service of the Governor of Nenets AO reports.
The Russian ministerial delegation is likely the largest VIP-delegation every visiting the top of the world.
From North Pole-2015, Rogozin and his team flew with helicopter to the geographical North Pole. The Deputy Prime Minister early Sunday morning posted a tweet with photos from 90°N.
According to Regnum, the team made a series of photos with the Russian flag, the Victory flag of WWII, St. Andrew’s flag and the flag of Russia’s Military Historical Society. The delegation spent half an hour at the North Pole before flying back to the drifting ice-station from where they could take off with a Russian aircraft on the ice.
Dmitry Rogozin is in charge of Russia’s military industrial complex and was ambassador to NATO from 2008 to 2011.
Late last year a new version of Russia’s military doctrine was adopted. The doctrine for the first time highlighted the protection of Russia’s national interests in the Arctic. Two weeks ago, military paratroopers for the first time in history jumped and landed on the ice near the North Pole.
From January 1 this year, a joint Arctic Command is organized as part of Russia’s Northern fleet in order to control and coordinate troops in the Arctic.
Speaking the drifting ice-station North Pole-2015 on Saturday evening, Dmitry Rogozin said Russia should make every effort to come to the Arctic and master-control the parts belonging to the country.
“There are many problems that are not solved for decades during Soviet times and in the pre-Soviet period,” Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin said as quoted by the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.
Well back on the Russian mainland on Sunday, Dmitry Rogozin started to post ironic tweets.
Linking BarentsObserver and different Russian media-article on the Norwegian reactions to his Svalbard visit, the Deputy Prime Minister says Просто завидуют, что мы на Северном полюсе купались) …(Just jealous that we were swimming at the North Pole). A second tweet reads После драки кулаками не машут” (“After a fight, its too late wawe your fists” in the understanding “No use to cry over spilt milk” or “The bus is gone”).
Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende says to TV2 Nyhetskanalen Sunday evening that his Ministry summons the Russia’s Ambassador on Monday to answer why Rogozin went to Svalbard.