Although Svalbard is under Norwegian sovereignty, the unique Svalbard Treaty of 1920 allows citizens of signatory countries equal rights to exploit natural resources. Russia, along with Norway, maintain mining operations on Svalbard as a result. Russia maintains a consulate in Barentsburg. The town has a Norwegian mail address and Norwegian phone numbers. Source: Wikipedia
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s visit to Svalbard on Saturday has created diplomatic tensions between Norway and Russia. Rogozin is on the international sanction list against Russia and is consequently a persona non grata on Norwegian soil.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Mr. Rogozin’s visit to Svalbard was not illegal, but that it had told Russia that blacklisted persons are not wanted at the archipelago.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende has signaled that Norway plans to establish stricter rules for entering Svalbard. “There shall be no doubt that people on the sanctions list, people that have been central in breaching international law in Ukraine, are not welcome to the mainland or to Svalbard,” he said to NTB, cited by Dagens Næringsliv.
“There are no legal grounds for filing claims against Russia in connection with the visit of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Svalbard,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich says to Vesti. “Oslo’s reaction to the trip is puzzling. It is inexplicable and absurd from the point of view of international law.”
According to state television channel Rossiya, Oslo is “grossly violating” the third article of the Svalbard treaty, which gives citizens of all the contracting parties the same right to free access and stay on Svalbard and the right to engage in shipping, industry, mining and commercial operations.
“After having introduced unlawful discriminatory measures against our officials, the Norwegians still get outraged that a plane with a person who has all the right to be on Svalbard without any permission, makes a technical stop,” says Vyacheslav Nikonov, Deputy of the Russian State Duma.
According to Vesti, Rogozin spent no more than an hour on Svalbard.