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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Locals feed stranded Russian truckers

An unusual spring snowstorm has stranded nearly 30 Russian trucks and their drivers in Kvænangen, Northern Norway, known for its sometimes treacherous weather. Since sanctions against Russia and its war on Ukraine have made the drivers’ bank- and credit cards unusable, local citizens collected funds to feed and care for them.

“We had to put international politics aside” and help the truckers, Reidar Eilertsen-Wassnes told local newspaper Framtid i nord in a story picked up nationally by state broadcaster NRK.  “These are normal people who have landed in an especially difficult situation.”

The Russian truckers had driven into Norway before borders were closed on Friday, and then they got caught in stormy weather on the main E6 highway at Kvænangen between Tromsø and Alta. Eilertsen-Wassnes had noticed that trucks were piling up at Burfjord in Kvænangen and he approached some of the drivers. “Their problem was that their bank cards were unusable and they couldn’t buy any food or supplies,” Eilertsen-Wassnes said, so he launched a local fundraiser and collected NOK 20,000 by Saturday.

A local grocery story helped pack up food for all the drivers through the weekend and local officials opened up a local community center where the drivers could take a warm shower, wash clothes and get access to the Internet. “They’re very grateful, saying ‘spasibo’ (thank you) all the time. One of the trucking companies’ leaders, Roman Evseenko, told NRK he was also grateful.

“How can we ever pay this back,” he asked, adding that “in other countries, people don’t like us now (because of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine) and that makes us sad. We want to help our drivers but we can’t send money to them. It’s a tough situation. We thank everyone helping our drivers, and perhaps we can return the help someday with kindness.” staff



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