OSLO IS PERPLEXED AT THE ACCUSATIONS THAT THE NORWEGIAN AIR FORCE IMPLEMENTS DANGEROUS MANEUVERS CLOSE TO THE KURSK

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By Aleksei Smirnov Novye Izvestia, July 31, 2001, p. 7

Even the days senior officers of the Russian Navy who are flown above the site of the tragedy are not revealed. This is confirmed by a recent Russian-Norwegian diplomatic incident.

Navy Chief-of-Staff Viktor Kravchenko met with journalists last Friday to talk about NATO activeness around the area. These days, Norway has two surveillance ships nearby – the Marjata and the Sverdlup. To tell the truth, the Russian military itself caused all of it when it did not permit the Norwegians to send at least one official representative of Oslo to monitor the operation. The two surveillance ships and an ELINT buoy are all the assets the Norwegians have close to the area to tell them if it is time to run to bomb shelters when something “hot” explodes in the Kursk. All the same, the admiral was particularly irked by the Norwegian Air Force. He said that last Wednesday a Norwegian jet executed a dangerous maneuver near the helicopter with the Northern Fleet chief-of-staff. This statement was followed by a protest notably from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Brigadier General Shel Granhagen, chief of the PR department of the Norwegian Armed Forces said, “We checked out the information. There were no Norwegian aircraft in the vicinity of the Kursk last Wednesday. A civilian plane did pass close by, a Dornier 228. The Russian military should have been able to tell the difference between a civilian plane and an aircraft…”

Ronnie Ostrem of the company Arctic Air said, “I know of this episode. The plane was chartered by Russian journalists. In any case, the Dornier was beyond the closed zone and its velocity was far below that of a fighter.”

As a result, a promising NATO provocation turned out to be a meeting with the Russians…

Moscow immediately amended the protest. The helicopter flew the officer on Monday, not Wednesday. The Norwegians returned to their papers again.

“Yes, an Orion approached the area on Monday and it did see the helicopter. But the distance between them was no less than a naval mile or about two kilometers,” the report from Oslo stated. Norway issued a press release stating its lack of understanding of how official Moscow could mix Monday and Wednesday and assuring that the life of the Russian officer was in no danger from Norway any day of the week.

“The Orion did make visual and electronic contact with the helicopter but no close encounters occurred. Everything took place in international air space… The Orion was beyond the security zone established by the Russian Federation around the Kursk. The aircraft did not approach the helicopter closer than a naval mile quite in line with international and Norwegian domestic regulations.”

Command by the Russian Navy failed miserably to prove that the admiral’s life was in jeopardy…

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