Spy news can sour Russian relations

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As revelations of US spying continue to leak out of documents distributed by defected American Edward Snowden, some of them may cause conflicts for Norway’s relations with neighbouring Russia. The Washington Post has reported that the US has been warning allies who’ve cooperated with US intelligence gathering, and Norway may be among them.

Vardø may become another oil boomtown, but local residents aren't sure they want that. This photo was taken just after midnight, when the Midnight Sun came out in force. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Vardø is dotted with large radar installations, and the actual purpose of some of them may cause conflicts with Norway’s Russian neighbours. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Classified documents being revealed by Snowden are believed to contain information about US surveillance of Russia conducted from allied NATO countries. Norway is a member of NATO and has long considered the US its most important ally, although political leaders are now unhappy to learn how the US has also spied on allied European leaders and probably themselves as well.

But it’s several high-tech installations in Northern Norway under military control that may cause a conflict with the Russians, if their true purpose leaks out. Among them, reports newspaper Dagsavisen, is the Globus II radar installation in Norway’s far northern and eastern town of Vardø.

The large radar installation that dominates a hilltop in the Arctic town of less than 3,000 people is owned and operated by the US, reports Dagsavisen, but actually is run by the Norwegian military intelligence unit known as E-tjenesten.

Its official purpose is to monitor outer space and assist in research. The Russians have long claimed, however, that it’s part of the US’ so-called rocket shield system that has upset the Russians for years.

Revelations may also come as a surprise for government officials in the various countries cooperating with the US, since there have been cases where political leadership, even in foreign ministries, was kept out of dealings with US intelligence agencies, reported Dagsavisen. The Washington Post reported that looming revelations from more of the estimated 30,000 documents Snowden will at any rate have consequences for relations between Russia and the countries found to be aiding US surveillance.

Neither the Norwegian defense ministry nor the military’s E-tjenesten intelligence unit would comment on the Post’s report, now would they say whether Norway is among the countries the US has warned.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund