Russia’s next move: Svalbard

Abandoned Russian mining town on Svalbard
By Bjoertvedt – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

We will continue to watch Russia divide up Ukraine into pieces until it is essentially Russian territory, and as I previously noted, don’t be surprised when Russia moves into Central Asia. But for anyone that thinks Russia will hesitate against a NATO ally, I say, look to Norway. Because it is here that Russia is beginning its information drumbeat to take territory.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide and Justic Minister Monica Maeland wrote an op-ed in VG titled “Svalbard Treaty 100 Years.” The discussion focused on a resource discussion, because while the treaty gave Svalbard to Norway, it allowed treaty signatories rights to fishing, hunting, and mineral resources. At the time, the Soviet Union continued to call the island Spitsbergen and kept repeating the claim they had discovered it first.

Flash forward, and Russia responded to the op-ed on the news site E24. First they claimed that Norway was ignoring their concerns over Spitsbergen. They also point out that Svalbard “is not originally Norwegian territory,” and that only Russia and Norway have commercial interests on the island. Russia operates a defunct coal mine on the island, which loses money every year, simply to maintain this claim.

If this sounds like Ukraine and Georgia, you’re catching on. While we might be a bit far away from a Russia land-grab on Svalbard, we are in the setup phase. I see Russia first making claims that Svalbard is a Russia-Norway issue. They don’t want NATO involved, and since the treaty was made before NATO, they’ll use that as a wedge to keep other countries out. Then we’ll start seeing stories about Norwegian “atrocities” against the approximately 400 Russians that live on the island. As a side bonus, we might see Russia make claims that the tourism is causing negative climate change, so only someone that cares about the environment like Russia should be in charge.

While not on the same level as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Russia has found an opening in Norway, and it will settle in for a long fight to take away territory and chip at the NATO alliance.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

The Octave of Romano’s Market: Saturday, The Family 117 Years and Done!

If Friday’s at Romano’s was a time of fellowship Saturdays was a time of Family.

That because Mike’s sons Josh Romano and Todd Romano would be in the house working alongside their father.

Both have full time jobs. Josh is a School Principal in Winchester and a former Major in the Army who had deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gitmo Todd is in sales, but when Saturday came they became the local butchers along with their father as they had since they were very young. During the busy season you would also see son CJ and before she got married his daughter and occasionally his wife would be down too.

Just about every grandchild in the family who was old enough has worked behind that counter or at the cash register. If Mike had lived a few years longer you never know if one of them might have decided to take the work on themselves, or perhaps open a couple of days a week

And there were folks like Katie who had been there for years, and Michelle who has worked there for the last ten and carried the ball all this week working. Occasionally the thought came that they might keep up the business, but the same two problems came up.

You couldn’t have a part time butcher shop because of spoilage. The meat has to be sold and sold within a specific period of time. Even closing Sundays posed a problem along those lines after the funeral and as for another person taking over, once the Business was sold 100 years of updated laws that Romano’s had been grandfathered in would have to be observed by the new owners. Combined with the cost of buying the business it became prohibitave.

So for the last time today I will buy a steak and some hamburg and enjoy the meats that I’ve eaten for the nearly three decades that I’ve lived in this neighborhood, but that loss will pale before the lost of the people that I whose faces I’ve seen for decades, the boys and girls who have grown into men and women with kids of their own and who have watch my own kids grow from being carried into the shop to coming in to do their own shopping.

They are like a family and I will miss them an awful lot and I suspect that as much as we all will miss Mike, the loss of that entire extended family will be the thing that me, mine and I suspect hundreds of others will miss the most.

I thank the all the Romano’s for letting me & mine be a part of it.

And Josh and the Romano’s would like to thank you too