Newsletter: Back to Colonialism

Vessel Chief Geir-Martin Leinebø and head of Caatex research mission Dr. Hanne Sagen photographed on the North Pole Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Norwegian Armed Forces)

Dear High North News reader! 

Donald Trump has – again – been in the headlines of High North News, as he has been in the rest of the world.

His generous offer (in his own opinion) about buying Greenland from Denmark, and through that relieving Denmark of the ‘burden’ of the annual block allocation, failed.

Because what neither the American president nor his advisors appear to understand is that the world’s largest island belongs to the Greenlanders, not the Danes. And colonial days are long gone.

Lost clout

POTUS was upset that the Danish PM said no to his proposal through referring to his generous offer as “absurd” and postponed (read: cancelled) his long-sine planned state visit to Denmark – via Twitter, of course.

The grandiose plans that were leaked to The Wall Street Journal last week have been widely ridiculed – both in social media as well as the established press. And Donald Trump does not like being ridiculed and losing his clout.

Hopefully he will not read this week’s Friday op-ed from HNN Editor-in-Chief Arne O. Holm, who writes:

Donald Trump’s failed attempt at buying Greenland might make it necessary to hide the Svalbard Treaty behind lock and bar, preferably before the American property mogul tears this international agreement too into pieces.”

Entrenched defense debate

There is an entrenched debate in Norway about whether or not the Norwegian society is well enough rigged to face external threats, both visible and less visible.

Norwegian intelligence services have pointed to Russia following GPS jamming repeatedly blocking signals for civilian aviation in 2017 and 2018. Head of the Directorate for Public Security and Preparedness, Cecilie Daae, will not comment the GPS incidents directly to High North News, but stresses that Norway as a society should be prepared for such incidents occurring in the future too.

Russia conducts more exercises and gets ever-closer to the Norwegian coast. Some argue that it is an understandable Russian response to increased cooperation between Norway and the USA/NATO. Others perceive it as a provocation.

Nevertheless, the increased level of activity has rekindled a debate about who knows most about the Norwegian weaknesses; the Russians or the Norwegians.

Retired Lieutenant-General Robert Mood criticizes knowledge amongst decisionmakers in charge of the defense of Norway. Russian intelligence holds far more knowledge about Norway’s weaknesses than most MP’s do” he says. And warns: “If anyone wanted to exploit Norway’s weaknesses in critical infrastructure next week, it would be very easy to do so.”

Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen does not mince his words in criticizing Mood and his views: “…Mood has demonstrated that his understanding of the political role of Stortinget and its various political roles is found wanting and even lacking in parts. Not everyone in parliament is supposed to have thorough knowledge of Norway’s security situation.”

Planted the flag

Whether the news about a Norwegian ship reaching the North Pole for the first time everare good or bad, we’ll leave for you to decide.

Nevertheless, it happened this week. Wednesday morning at 09:32 CET, KV Svalbard reached the geographic North Pole and KV Svalbard thus wrote history.It tells us that the sea ice is getting th inner and that ice-going vessels have a greater chance of navigating all over the Arctic, not just to the North Pole”, researcher Stein Sandven stated. A group of international scientists measuring temperature changes in the Polar Sea are onboard the ship.

New long-read format

We allow ourselves a bit of self-promotion before the weekend. It has taken time, blood, sweat and tears, but this week the High North News introduced a new long-read format on our pages. Earlier this year, our reporter Amund Trellevik and photographer Denis Sinyakov went to Shies railway station in northwestern Russia, where a war-like standoff between environmentalists on the one side and a waste disposal corporation and Russian authorities on the other side. We have now republished this most read-worthy article in a far more reader-friendly format. (Norwegian only, English version to follow soon.)

Enjoy it – and enjoy your weekend.

Siri Gulliksen Tømmerbakke
News Editor