Norwegian border guards visit Russia

Last week the Norwegian and Russian border guard service had their annual exchange event where around 20 soldiers and officers from each country cross the border to see what the daily service is like on the other side.


This year’s event took place in the border guard detachment of Salmijärvi on the Russian side and Elvenes on the Norwegian side.

- Events like this are important in building relations between the two sides guarding the border, Norwegian Border Commissar Colonel Ivar Sakserud told BarentsObserver. – Norwegian and Russian guards jointly constitute one border guard. – You can almost say we have one common border and one common border guard service, he added.

According to Sakserud, the Norwegian soldiers participating in the exchange event are hand-picked from the different detachments and have been looking forwards to this day for a long time.

Head of Sør-Varanger Garrison (GSV) Jørn Erik Berntsen confirms this: - Of course this is a special occasion for the soldiers that are picked out to participate. – At what other place of duty do you get the chance to visit a Russian military camp? – It is only soldiers from GSV who have this privilege.

The 20 boys and girls in the age 19-20 years are about to finish their one-year service in the Norwegian Armed Forces. In Salmijärvi they were shown the newly renovated quarters, where the servicemen either live together with their families in apartments, or in rooms for one, two or three persons. This surprised the Norwegians, who are used to sleep in rooms for eight.

They were shown how the Russians train in recognizing attempts of illegal crossing of the border fence and how they use dogs in the service. The Norwegian soldiers got a thoroughly lesson on how to assembly and disassembly the AK-74 rifle, the Russian border guard’s main weapon, and even got to try shooting with it.

The next day around 20 soldiers and officers from different detachments on the Russian side of the border visited Elvenes border guard station and GSV’s main camp on Høybuktmoen outside Kirkenes, where they got to take a look at different equipment and weapons and shoot with the Norwegians soldiers’ main weapon HK416.