«Our cooperation continues as planned»

Norway's Border Commissioner Colonel Ivar Sakserud (left) and his Russian counterpart Colonel Vitaly Mikhailov.

Cooperation between Norway and Russia’s Border Commissioners will continue as planned, says Norwegian Border Commissioner Colonel Ivar Sakserud.


“The situation does not seriously influence our cooperation for the time being”, Sakserud says to BarentsObserver. “I have just returned from a planned meeting with the Russian Border Commissioner. Our cooperation will continue as planned”.

Norway’s Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide on Tuesday informed that Norway suspends all planned military cooperation activities between Norway and Russia to the end of May 2014, following the country’s condemnation of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and the use of armed force in Ukraine.

Among the planned events that have been cancelled is a Russian naval vessel’s visit to Oslo in connection with the Norwegian Navy’s 200th anniversary in May, the joint exercise Northern Eagle, Russian participation in the Norwegian Military Tattoo 2014 and the Russian navy commander’s visit to Bergen. Also Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s meeting to Norway in April has been postponed.

Soldier exchange program suspended
The annual soldier exchange between FSB’s border guards in Nikel and the Norwegian border guards at Sør-Varanger Garrison has been suspended. The event was supposed to take place on Monday and Tuesday this week.

 “We had received signals that Norway was going to cancel bilateral military cooperation with Russia, so we noticed our Russian colleagues that the personnel exchange would be cancelled”, Sakserud says.

While the Norwegian Border Commissariat is subjected to the Police and Ministry of Justice, the soldiers guarding the 196 kilometers long border to Russia belong to the Norwegian Armed Forces and are subjected to the Defense Ministry.

The Russian Border Guard Service belongs to the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).

The personnel exchange program has been important in building trust and confidence between the two nations’ border guard forces. The soldiers visit each other’s camps, see how they live, train and conduct their assignment.

“Events like this are important in building relations between the two sides guarding the border”, Border Commissioner Colonel Ivar Sakserud told BarentsObserver during a visit to the Russian border guard camp Salmijärvi two years ago. “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.

Photos from the exchange program in 2011: