Conflict in the Ukraine War Makes Freezing Near the North Pole

BARENTSBURG, Norway – At first glance, 50-year-old Sergey Gushchin is probably not the most imaginative Russian ambassador to the world’s northern mission: ponytail, bluejeans, bass player in the punk band.

However, in Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, it has always been a matter of pride to separate people from governments. The Russians, the Ukrainians and the Norwegians have lived together for years in this remote wilderness characterized by polar bears and the tropical climate, not because of divisive politics.

There is a saying in the Arctic that if your snow car breaks down, no one will ask your country before they can help you fix it. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also taken place around the world, threatening intimate relations with experts, cultural connections and social media competitions.

The Svalbard Tourism Commission has called for the neglect of Russian state-owned enterprises in the Barentsburg coal mines. Mr Gushchin, who is still widely regarded as a man of action and organization, has shocked and angered many with his comments about the Russian uprising and said that the Norwegian media often spread “false news”.

Timofey Rogozhin, a former Russian immigration official in Barentsburg, who resigned last year, now spends most of his time on Telegram, denouncing Russian propaganda about the plot. Calling himself a critic, he described the violence in Ukrainian cities as “not a crime but a crime.”

Elizabeth Bourne, an American who is the director of the Spitsbergen Artists Center in Longyearbyen, where mainly Norwegian people visit, trade, research and universities in Svalbard. “It simply came to our notice then. I think that would be tragic. ”

Longyearbyen is located about 30 miles[30 km]northeast of Barentsburg and is home to some 2,500 people from 50 countries. of the Soviet Union.

Their length is almost impressive due to the lack of a road between the towns. The trip should be done by snow, boat or helicopter.

“The people of Longyearbyen may not want to see me, but they still love to see the people of Barentsburg,” says Gushchin.

The 1920 treaty gave Norway control over Svalbard. But other signatories, including the Soviet Union / Russia, have been granted equal rights to trade, such as mining, scientific research, and tourism.

The Russian ambassador to Barentsburg overlooks the Green Fjord and the former Soviet foreign archeological site: the explosion of Lenin, a Cyrillic sign announcing “Communism is our goal,” rebuilding Stalinist blocks and incense burning sulfur coals on local power. plant.

At one time, more than 1,000 people lived here. Now there are only about 370, two-thirds of them in Ukraine, Gushchin said. Most of the miners come from the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, which is closely related to Russia. It is the region where fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists began in 2014. Some locals are involved in tourism and other activities.

Several Russian and Ukrainian people interviewed by a New York Times reporter on Wednesday refused to discuss political issues. However, Natalia Maksimishina, a Russian diplomat, criticized Russian President Vladimir V. Putin for the possible role of terrorists in the Russian military, saying: “I hope to see him again in The Hague.”

Barentsburg is owned by Trust Arktikugol, a Russian-owned mining business. The strike, called by a tourist agency in Svalbard, calls for a halt to the use of the town’s hotel, Red Bear bar and liquor stores, restaurants and museums.

Barentsburg appeared to be empty Wednesday, with the exception of the number of visitors arriving on a small train. Prior to the epidemic, tourism was more profitable than coal, Gushchin said. Now, he added, Trust Arktikugol loses “big money” every week. Many tourists bring their food and leave in a hurry, he said.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Credit cards issued by Russian banks do not operate in the Norwegian financial system amid international sanctions. Aircraft are difficult to repair.

Shortly after being interviewed Wednesday, Mr. Gushchin complained that his band’s guitarist had left. “When you have a singer and a singer, they look like punk, not rock,” he said.

During the ordeal, Mr. Gushchin set fire to the logs at the embassy’s reception desk, but he did not attempt to stem the tide of cold-blooded hostility in Svalbard.

He stood up for what he said in English in early April to Nettavisen, a Norwegian online newspaper. He also told the site that the houses in Mariupol, Ukraine, had not been destroyed by Russian bullets but by the Ukrainian army, which is allied with the Nazi party. And that the expectant mother photographed outside the besieged hospital was not a patient.

Asked by Nettavisen if he felt he should make such a statement in his capacity, Mr Gushchin said he was expressing his views. If he did not do so, he would be fired immediately. On Wednesday, Mr. Gushchin stated: “I saw that it had touched the hearts of many Norwegians, but I told them my thoughts.

What he said to Nettavisen was shocking to many, and he found it to be very different from what Gushchin considered to be the deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church. Last August, he assisted in a prayer service at Svalbard Church in Longyearbyen, a parish of the Church of Norway. Siv Limstrand, a Lutheran pastor at Svalbard Church, reports that at first he considered Mr. Gushchin to be “very friendly, open-minded, communicative, communicative.”

“People are upset, but he is a government official,” said Limstrand. “We cannot expect anything from him. But a little discussion, I think, would have been possible. ”

Arriving in Barentsburg in November 2018, Mr. Gushchin is waiting for his successor, stating that he and his wife are eager to return to Moscow to see their 22-year-old daughter and his 82-year-old mother. that is why he will not try to oppose Putin.

Clearly, Mr. Gushchin is obsessed with optics. On Wednesday, he refused to be photographed standing next to a bear with a taxidermied polar bear on the embassy, ​​saying it could give a false signal of Russian atrocities.

He also said he would not attend a cultural conference in Longyearbyen on May 21 so as not to “offend anyone.”

“There are a lot of Russians and Ukrainians and Norwegians who would not be happy if I took part,” said Mr Gushchin.

When recruiting a job in Svalbard, Gushchin said that he viewed it as “a dream come true,” which has become “very interesting.” But he also said that he was ready to return to Russia.

With a sigh, then laughter, he said he hoped the Ukrainian invasion would not be “a bad thing and a global one.” If World War I broke out “and we were stuck here,” he joked, “it would be difficult to return home.

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