Russia erects double barbed wire fence against the Norwegian bear

FSB is stepping up the physical protection, control and surveillance along Russia's 196 kilometer long border to Norway in the north.

SALMIJERVI: Contrary to earlier plans, FSB border guards reinforce the physical protection along Russia’s border to Norway. A brand new, and partly double barbed wire fence is now under construction.


The doubled barbed wire fence is an improvement of the technology to detect in which direction a person or an animal is trying to cross the border, says Colonel Vitaly Mikhailov, Russia’s Border Commissioner to BarentsObserver.

“It is a construction with a zone in between so that it will be more difficult to cross and easier to detect,” says Vitaly Mikahilov.

The doubled barbed wire fence is erected in the area north from the old passport- and customs station. This is the area where the new main road between the border check-point Borisoglebsk turns in direction of Zapolyarny. The new double fence consists of one smaller and one larger with a one and a half meter zone in between. The smaller one is on the west side, see slideshow by the end of this article.

Piles of barbed wire fence are waiting to be outstretched and some tens of workers are engaged in the construction.   

The Border Commissioner argues that the new fence will hinder bears and mooses to cross the border. Asked by BarentsObserver if he is afraid of the Norwegian bear, Vitaly Mikhailov smiles and say “no”.

How long will the new double barbed wire fence be?

“As long as we can afford,” says Mikhailov.

In the zone south of the old check-point, another new barbed wire fence is erected parallel with the old. “We will tear down the old when the new is ready,” says Border Commissioner Mikhailov. 

The construction of new fences is contradicting what Russia’s then-Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said when visiting Oslo in 2006. The Norwegian, Russian relation is so good that the border guards in the north soon can be removed, Ivanov then stated, according to NRK.

Commenting on Ivanov’s statement from 2006, Mikhailov says «We are under FSB so what the Minister of Defense says is nothing we have anything to do with. It is two different organizations.”

Last spring, Deputy Head of FSB’s border guard service, Vladimir Streltsov, said to Rossiyskaya Gazeta that outdated protective installations like barbed wire fences would be replaced with advanced surveillance and monitoring equipment. BarentsObserver visits FSB’s border guard detachment at Salmijervi together with Norwegian border guards, the police in charge of the border formalities and the Norwegian Border Commissioner. In a very open and friendly atmosphere we are shown the latest high-tech surveillance equipment, including a drone flying with a thermal imaging camera, personnel radars, night glasses and brand new vehicles for patrolling the border.

At a nearby firing range, soldiers from the Norwegian Border Guard Battalion got a chance not only to see the Russian border guards’ weaponry, but also to test fire with them.

Norwegian Border Commisser, Colonel Ivar Sakserud, welcomes Russia’s construction of a new double barbed wire fence. “This is not a problem. The more, the better and the longer the better,” says Sakserud. 

“Everything that contributes to hinder people from illegal border crossings is good,” says Ivar Sakserud underlining that he does not consider the new barbed wire fence as a barricade against Norway as such.