Abstract: How Normal Can Svalbard Be? A Small Part of Russia in Encounter with Norwegian Governance

The Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago is unique in that it is governed on the basis of the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, which gives Norway sovereignty over Svalbard and thus responsibility for administering the islands, while at the same time allowing all signatory countries equal rights to extracting natural resources and upholding other commercial activities. While most of the economic «adventurers» of the early 20th century found Svalbard to be of little economic interest, the Soviet Union maintained a strong presence throughout the century, thus de facto making Svalbard a place for bilateral Soviet–Norwegian relations. The article explores how Norway, starting in the 1960s, has gradually attempted to increase its management in the Sovjet, and later Russian, settlements, and increasingly so after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Environmental issues have been instrumental in improving Norway’s management capabilities, which have caused frustration in Moscow.

Keywords: Svalbard, treaty, international law, Russian presence, Cold War, environment, Norway