SU-30SM, SU-35S, and SU-34 flying in formation - Sputnik International, 1920
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Norway to Activate Drills on Svalbard Archipelago Despite Its Demilitarized Status

CC0 / Svalbard Global Seed Vault/Peter Vermeij / Rows of multicoloured homes in the town of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway.
Rows of multicoloured homes in the town of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.11.2022
The 1920 Svalbard Treaty clearly established Svalbard as a demilitarized area. Therefore, Norway, under whose jurisdiction the archipelago falls, is obliged to ensure that no facilities which could be used for warlike purposes will be created there.
The Norwegian Air Force is planning regular training missions between the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and mainland Norway starting next year.
According to the plans for an increased military presence in the archipelago north of mainland Europe, the 335th Squadron will handle the regular training flights to and from Longyearbyen using Hercules transport aircraft.

According to the Norwegian Armed Forces, a large proportion of pilots have never flown there before. Training trips must be carried out two to four times a year to maintain continuity, the military stressed.
Although Norwegian experts defended the flights as an important resource for emergency preparedness, calling them a “completely legitimate” token of the authorities’ concern over the vulnerability of energy infrastructure and supply lines, the news that training is taking place on Svalbard comes at a time when relations between Norway and Russia - once friendly and mutually beneficial - are at their lowest ebb ever since the Ukrainian conflict kicked off and Oslo demonstrated its eager support for Kiev, providing weapons and training.
Local Longyearbyen board leader Arild Olsen welcomed the Air Force’s plan to increase the military presence, but added that he expected Russia to object.
In the past few years Moscow has repeatedly accused Norway of violating the Svalbard Treaty with its creeping militarization of the archipelago - most recently in with the visit of the Thor Heyerdahl frigate. Earlier, Moscow said Oslo violated the Treaty by limiting the rights of Russian companies to gain access to mineral resources, and to develop hydrocarbon deposits.
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The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 recognized Norway’s sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago, at the time referred to as Spitsbergen, while stipulating its demilitarization. Norway is therefore obliged not to create or allow any facilities that be used for “warlike purposes”. The treaty also established that Russia had equal rights with Norway to develop the island.
The Norwegian Defense Operational Headquarters told local media that their plans for air drills are in no way a signal to Russia, but rather designed to improve preparedness to help civilians in the event of accidents and natural disasters.
Nevertheless, Norway’s militarization in the Far North continues. Only last month, Norway's Minister of Justice, Emilie Enger Mehl, launched the first of the coast guard's three new Jan Mayen-class vessels, the KV Jan Mayen, which has been seen as a way of strengthening security “all the way to the North Pole”.
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Starting on 1 November, the Norwegian government strengthened the combat readiness of the kingdom's armed forces amid the conflict in Ukraine, attracting condemnation from Russia which objected to “Oslo's conscious adherence to a destructive course to escalate tensions in the Euro-Arctic region”.
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