In recent years, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has purchased properties on the Norwegian coast near important military sites.
According to Norwegian daily Dagbladet, the Moscow Patriarchate’s Epiphany parish acquired a former prayer house in Sereida in 2016. The property is 3 kilometers in a straight line from Haakonsvern, the main base of the Royal Norwegian Navy and the largest naval base of the Nordic countries.
The religious organization also runs the parish of the Holy Great Martyr Irene in Stavanger, which is about a 15-minute walk from the JWC – NATO Joint Warfare Center.
Additionally, ROC owns a property in Kirkenes, just a few kilometers from the Russian border. According to the article, the church bought the parish of Saint Tryphon of Pechenga in 2015. The region is known for its close relations with Russia, and many Russians live on the Norwegian side of the border.
The church also has a property in the Norwegian capital called Olginsky Parish where services have been held since 1996. There is also a Sunday school for children, an icon painting course and Orthodox lectures in Russian and in Norwegian.
Personal sanctions have already been imposed on the leader of the ROC, Patriarch Kirill, for his support for a full-fledged war in Ukraine. Some European countries are calling for it to be placed on the EU sanctions list.
Following the announcement of a partial mobilization in Russia, Patriarch Kirill urged Russians to go to the front and not be afraid to die. He also believes that the Russian army is fulfilling “its vocation and its duty to its homeland and its society” by fighting Ukraine, and that its actions are “comparable to self-sacrifice”.
In an interview with the newspaper, security expert Alfa Sefland Winge warns that ROC-owned facilities such as Haakonsvern “could be a problem” as the structures could be used for purposes other than religious.
“If you imagine the full range of possible measures, then you can disrupt the signals, maybe listen to the signals, you can control the drones from there, you can provide housing for people mapping the area. There is a wide range of possible geodetic activity and breaches that can be carried out from such a base,” Winge said.
Norway took over most of Germany’s and EU’s gas import needs after Russia’s Gazprom closed the Nord Stream 1 pipeline indefinitely, allowing European countries to reach their energy reserves targeted winter seasons.
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