Norway has taken a significant step to counter the growing intelligence threat from Russia by declaring 15 Russian intelligence officers as personae non gratae, effective immediately. The officers were working under diplomatic cover in Norway and have been engaged in activities that are incompatible with their diplomatic status, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.
The decision is in response to the increased security situation in Europe, particularly the growing intelligence threat from Russia. Ms. Huitfeldt stated, “Russia currently poses the greatest intelligence threat to Norway. We take this very seriously, and are now implementing measures to counter Russian intelligence activities in our country. We will not allow Russian intelligence officers to operate under diplomatic cover in Norway.”
The activities of the intelligence officers had been monitored over time, and the decision to declare them as personae non gratae was made against the backdrop of the deteriorating security situation. This decision builds on the action taken in April 2022, when three Russian intelligence officers were expelled from Norway.
Norway is not the only country taking steps to curtail covert Russian intelligence activity. Many European countries have recently reduced the number of Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover and have tightened the rules for issuing visas to Russian intelligence officers.
However, Ms. Huitfeldt emphasized that Norway seeks to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Russia and that Russian diplomats are welcome in Norway. The action taken is specifically targeted toward reducing undesirable intelligence activities. “We want Russia to continue to have a functioning diplomatic mission in Norway, but we will not accept that diplomatic missions are misused for the purposes of carrying out covert intelligence activities,” she said.
The term “personae non gratae” is a Latin phrase that means “unwelcome person” or “unacceptable person.” It is used in diplomacy to refer to foreign individuals who are deemed undesirable or unacceptable by the host country. This can be due to their actions or behaviour, which are not compatible with their diplomatic status or are contrary to the interests of the host country.
Overall, Norway’s decision to declare 15 Russian intelligence officers as personae non gratae reflects the country’s determination to protect its national interests and counter the growing intelligence threat from Russia. While Norway seeks to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Russia, it will not tolerate the misuse of diplomatic missions for covert intelligence activities.