Russia’s consul general on the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard Andrei Chemerilo is linked to Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK revealed on Wednesday.
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According to experts quoted by NRK, Svalbard is strategic territory for Russia as in the event of a conflict, it could provide an opportunity for Russia’s Northern Fleet to defend itself.
Formally, the archipelago is a demilitarized zone under the 1920 Spitsbergen Treaty. At the same time, Russia, as one of the signatories to the document, is allowed to conduct economic activities there. The Russians are operating coal mines in the city of Barentsburg.
As NRK pointed out, Chemerilo was registered at an address where the Military Defense Academy of the Russian Federation, known as the “GRU Conservatory.” According to the broadcaster, students learn there, among other things, methods of communicating with secret agents and recruiting collaborators.
Russias man on Svalbard, Andrei Chemerilo says Norway has breached the Svalbard Treaty by Article 3 and Article 9. Chemerilo says Norway has increased military activity for the Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force. @Forsvaret_no @Sjoforsvaret @kystvakten https://t.co/L5AnHuYqy9 pic.twitter.com/Hq1rUda4x1
— Selshevneren (@selshevneren) April 26, 2023
Chemerilo took up his post as Russia’s consul general in Barentsburg in July 2022, having previously served as a diplomat in Oslo and Stockholm.