Russian expert Iver B. Neumann believes Norway is choosing to send a strong signal to Russia when they are now opening the way for spy swapping deals.
A Russian citizen was detained for two weeks in prison for the reason of passing illegal intelligence after a seminar at parliament.
Neumann, director of the Welfare Research Institute NOVA and former NUPI researcher, said that deals between states are commonplace to settle issues.
“When Norway goes out and publishes a spy swap deal, it’s a strong signal,” he said.
Neumann emphasised as a general point that all major powers spy on all other countries.
‘’We denied that there is Russian espionage in Norway, or in the UK. But every time a Russian is arrested and suspected of espionage, Russia denies the charge. They have a policy to deny, even when one can prove it with concrete evidence’’ Neumann said.
He added that one can not trust anyone who always denies everything.
“Although some arrests may be wrong, it’s not wrong every single time,” he said.
He thinks the charge does not decrease if it proves to be incorrect.
“It is a burden in itself that a state makes charges. When you go out and publish a spy charge, it’s a very strong signal. This poses a risk that the counter-party will respond in the same way, in the short or long term, an accusation of espionage must be answered’’ he said.
Consequences for the Berg case?
Neumann would not go into Frode Berg’s case. The Norwegian is imprisoned in Moscow, accused of espionage.
‘’On a general basis, I can say that this kind of international competition often leads to reciprocal concessions. For example, they may result in reciprocal expulsions of diplomats or extraditions.’’
Neumann stated that Russian activity against Norway in other fields that are relevant is increasing.
‘’There are cut-offs of aircraft along the border, more fleet activity in the Baltic Sea, more propaganda on the net and so on. These are areas that we can check. It will, therefore, be very strange if Russian espionage doesn’t also go uphill. This is a bundle that is connected’’ Neumann said.
He believes that the relationship between Norway and Russia has been further aggravated by this case.
“We have every reason to keep up with developments,” Neumann emphasised.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today