Russian official says Norway unblocks food for miners

BARENTSBURG, Norway (AP) — Russian food supplies bound for an Arctic coal mining settlement have resumed transiting via mainland Norway after weeks of tension, a Russian representative said Wednesday.

Sergey Gushchin, the Russian consul general based in the settlement of Barentsburg, said Oslo had allowed Norwegian carriers to pick up the disputed cargo and cross the Russian-Norwegian border with it.

“All these days there has been close contact between the Russian and Norwegian Foreign Ministries. The situation has been resolved, a workaround has been found,” Gushchin said in a live interview on Russian TV.

“No one can detain Norwegian carriers on the territory of Norway. On July 5, a vessel with containers left the port of Tromso and will come to us in Barentsburg on July 8 (Friday),” he said.

Russian officials previously accused Oslo of blocking a shipment of essential goods, including food and medication, destined for Russian miners in Barentsburg, on the far-Northern Svalbard archipelago.

According to Norwegian media, local authorities in May stopped two containers carrying 20 tons of Russian goods at the sole land border crossing between the two countries, citing European Union sanctions against Moscow.

Gushchin said that there were no immediate food shortages in Barentsburg.

Norwegian media reported last month that the country’s ambassador to Moscow was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for a complaint over supplies bound for the settlement being prevented from transiting.

Just hours later, a cyberattack temporarily knocked out public and private websites in Norway, which Norwegian security officials attributed to “a criminal pro-Russian group.”

The distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attack on Norway came two days after a similar attack targeted public and private websites in Lithuania, with a pro-Moscow hacker group reportedly claiming responsibility.

That incident came a week after Russian officials threatened to retaliate because Lithuania restricted the transit of steel and ferrous metals sanctioned by the EU through its territory to Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad.