Apparently concerned that a haplessly emptied bladder could ignite World War III, an unknown agent in Norway has posted a sign that bans “peeing” in Russia’s direction along the two countries’ frontier.
At a popular tourist spot along the Grense Jakobselv river in northern Norway, which marks the border with Russia, the newly posted sign reads in English and in all capital letters: “No peeing towards Russia.”
At low water, only a few yards of river divide the two shorelines at the Grense Jakobselv. At the time of this article’s publication, it was not immediately clear when, or why, the anti-urination sign was erected. Jens Høilund, Norway’s border commissioner, told the Barents Observer that he was unaware of any “specific events in recent times” that necessitated the warning.
However, it’s common knowledge that most prohibitions arise in response to actions that have already come to fruition. For his part, Høilund said that Norwegian border guards are trying to prevent an “incident” at the Russian border.
“Both the police, the border guards, and the border commissariat will try to prevent incidents that could lead to violation of the agreement with Russia, including insulting behavior,” Høilund told the Barents Observer, adding that violators of the urination prohibition could face fines of about $340.
A founding member of the NATO alliance, Norway shares a 122-mile border with Russia that dates back to 1826. The two erstwhile Cold War adversaries have never been to war. Nevertheless, the Russo-Norwegian frontier is the only militarized border on the periphery of Europe’s Schengen Area.
A Norwegian law from the 1950s dictates proper decorum near the Russian border. The law specifically bans “offensive behavior along the border aimed at the neighboring state, or its authorities.” Violators face up to three months in jail, as well as hefty fines. In 2016, border guards detained four Norwegian citizens for throwing stones across the Grense Jakobselv in Russia’s direction.
Speaking with the Barents Observer, Høilund said the sign prohibiting urination in Russia’s direction is posted at a location where many motorists stop and stretch their legs after a long drive.
“It is likely that some have fallen for the temptation to urinate in the area,” Høilund said.
Guards from the Border Service of Russia reportedly patrol the Russian side of the river. The headquarters of Russia’s Northern Fleet in the port city of Severomorsk is situated along the Murmansk Fjord less than 70 miles from Norway’s border.
Due to Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic, defense ties between Norway and the US have tightened in recent years. Consequently, relations between Oslo and Moscow have chilled.
US Marines now routinely train alongside their Norwegian allies in cold weather and mountain training. Some 350 US Marines and Navy sailors deployed to Norway in October 2020 for two months of Arctic warfare training and survival training.
In February, US Air Force B-1B bombers and support personnel deployed to Norway for military exercises. And in May, the USS New Mexico became the first US nuclear-powered submarine to dock in Norway.
Russia’s Arctic buildup has also spurred closer military ties between Norway, Finland, and Sweden. In September 2020, the defense ministers of those three Nordic countries signed a new defense agreement aimed at deterring Russia.