Because of difficult weather conditions, Rogozin’s plane had to wait some time at the Longyearbyen airport before it proceeded to the North Pole. And it was in that connection that the deputy PM decided to visit the local Russian settlement of Barentsburg, a statement from MFA press spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich reads.
As previously reported by BarentsObserver, the controversial government official on 18 April made a surprise visit to the Norwegian archipelago and subsequently stirred a major furor from the Norwegian side.
Dmitry Rogozin is on the international sanction list against Russia and is consequently a person non grata on Norwegian soil.
According to the Russian MFA, Rogozin’s plane made two technical stops in Longyearbyen. Rogozin subsequenty boarded the special aircraft which later brought him to the North Pole.
“The use of the [Svalbard] archipelago for the trip to the station “North Pole - 2015” was connected with pure logistical considerations and the need for aviation security at the high latitudes”, the press statement reads.
The Russian MFA says it “does not understand” the Norwegian reaction to the visit by Rogozin. “These circumstances appear completely normal and one would have expected [bigger] understanding from the Norwegian side”, Lukashevich says. “Norway has so far always displayed a spirit of partnership in the Arctic”, he adds.
Rogozin’s visit has triggered a sharp reaction from the Norwegian MFA.
“We have clearly expressed to the Russian Embassy in Oslo that listed people are not wanted on Svalbard,” Head of Communication with the Foreign Ministry, Frode Andersen, told BarentsObserver late Saturday evening. “We have asked Russian authorities for an explanation,” he added.
Andersen also says that Norway now will consider to reinforce measures concerning entry, also including Svalbard.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende on Sunday confirmed that Russian Ambassador to Norway will on Monday be summoned to the ministry for an explaination.