The municipal council in the northern Norwegian city of Tromsø voted unanimously on Tuesday to end its “frienship city” ties with Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Nadym with immediate effect. Mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen of the Labour Party cited the “serious situation” that’s emerged after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.
“This is important for Tromsø and the role we have in the Arctic,” said Wilhelmsen, stressing that Tromsø doesn’t want to hurt the individual cities but rather send “a clear message to Putin that this war must be stopped.” He also cited sabotage concerns, observations of drones flying around Norwegian installations and the state government’s decision to finally ban most Russian fishing vessels from Norwegian harbours.
Tromsø’s harbour is among three exceptions to the ban, along with Kirkenes and Båtsfjord, but Wilhelmsen said the escalation of the war “and the atrocities occurring in Ukraine” make it “impossible to not end our friendship agreements.”
Several other Norwegian cities also have official friendship ties to Russian cities, including Vardø, Narvik, Mo i Rana, Harstad, Moss, Bodø and Alta. A local county governor thinks they may now follow Tromsø in “sending an important signal” after decades of cross-border friendship spoiled by Putin’s war.
State broadcaster NRK reported that Tromsø’s decision was not related to the arrest in Tromsø this week of an alleged Brazilian researcher at the local university who police believe is actually a Russian spy they want deported.