Norway declares 15 intelligence officers working at the Russian embassy in Oslo personae non gratae

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‘The 15 intelligence officers have been engaging in activities that are not compatible with their diplomatic status,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

The Government’s decision is in response to the changed security situation in Europe, which has led to an increased intelligence threat from Russia.  

‘This is an important step in countering, and reducing the level of, Russian intelligence activity in Norway, and thus in safeguarding our national interests,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.  

The Government has now decided to declare as personae non gratae 15 Russian intelligence officers who have been working under diplomatic cover in Norway. The officers concerned must leave Norway shortly. Visas will not be issued to intelligence officers seeking to come to Norway.

‘Russia currently poses the greatest intelligence threat to Norway. We take this very seriously, and are now implementing measures to counter Russian intelligence activities in our country. We will not allow Russian intelligence officers to operate under diplomatic cover in Norway,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.

The activities of these intelligence officers have been monitored over time. At the same time, there is an increasing Russian intelligence threat to Norway as a result of the deteriorating security situation. It is against this backdrop that we have decided to take this action now.

Today’s decision builds on the decision taken in April 2022 to expel three Russian intelligence officers from Norway.  

Norway is not the only country that is taking steps to curtail covert Russian intelligence activity. Many European countries have recently reduced the number of Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover, and have tightened the rules for issuing visas to Russian intelligence officers.   

‘I would like to emphasise that Norway is seeking to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Russia, and that Russian diplomats are welcome in Norway. The action we have taken today is targeted towards reducing undesirable intelligence activities. We want Russia to continue to have a functioning diplomatic mission in Norway, but we will not accept that diplomatic missions are misused for the purposes of carrying out covert intelligence activities,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.

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