Russia has labeled allegations of spying on NATO neighbor Norway as “fake news” and has declared the country as hostile due to its decision to expel 15 diplomats accused of spying.
On Thursday, Norway’s foreign minister Anniken Huitfeldt declared 15 Russian diplomats as persona non grata, after discovering that they were actually “intelligence officers” who either managed other spies or were “specialists” involved in intercepting communications.
The government stated that this expulsion has significantly hindered Russia’s ability to conduct spying in Norway.
In response to the expulsion of its citizens, Russia reacted with its typical bluster and bombast, claiming that Norway had exposed itself as a hostile state and warning that there would be consequences.
After news of the expulsion emerged on Thursday, the Russian foreign ministry swiftly issued a warning of an “appropriate response.” The ministry’s spokesman, Maria Zakharova, further escalated tensions on Friday by describing the move as a “serious blow” to the relationship between the two countries, which share a long land border in northern Europe.
“Norway confirms its status as a country hostile to Russia,” she said, with the Kremlin official promising a “tough response.” Zakharova blamed a campaign of “fake news” and “disinformation” in the Norwegian media which she said had been coordinated by intelligence agencies to undermine Russian-Norwegian relations.
Putting aside these claims, it is certain that relations between Russia and NATO have deteriorated significantly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Following the launch of their so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine, Russia has resorted to theatrically exaggerated threats against other nations who they believe are interfering in their perceived sphere of influence.
In March, when the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, former president, Putin loyalist, and Security Council deputy-chair Dmitry Medvedev responded with his typical reserve and threatened to bomb the court in retaliation.
Medvedev doubled down on this threat days later, expanding it to any country that attempted to carry out the warrant, stating that “all our weapons” – a significant threat from a nuclear state – were at their disposal for the job.
In addition, Medvedev has also issued threats toward Ukraine. Despite the invasion’s violent nature, within Russia’s internal rhetoric justifying the conflict, the “special military operation” is portrayed as an effort to liberate Ukraine from fascism and Western influence. However, departing from this narrative, Medvedev shared his view that Ukraine no longer served a purpose and declared that the country would “cease to exist.”