Olavsvern is the secret naval base in Norway, built by NATO during the Cold War. This 150,000 sq ft complex was placed into the mountain near the city of Tromsø, with a direct access to the sea.
This project required about 500 million dollars and 30 years of work. The purpose of this base was to respond to the moves of the Soviet Union.
However, its purpose changed in 2008. Restructuring of the Norwegian navy led to the decision of parliament to decommission this base, and of all possible solutions, parliament decided to do that by selling it through an online auction site. They promoted the place as an exclusive location suitable for realizing huge ideas.
The transaction was completed successfully, but instead for the starting price of 18 million dollars, a group of Norwegian oil drilling companies bought it for just 5 million dollars. However, the most interesting and unexpected thing happened afterwards. The new owners rented the base to Russian research vessels, allegedly linked to the Russian company Gazprom.
The area around the North Pole, where this base is located, is very sensitive area because of the unsolved territorial disputes, which is why some experts warn of potential conflicts between Russia and Scandinavian countries.
As former vice admiral who was in charge of Norway’s northern forces noticed, the sale of this base wasn’t the smartest decision. Instead of keeping its ships in the base and monitor Russian activities in the Barents Sea, to which only Russia and Norway have the permanent access, Norway let the base to be completely at Russia’s service.
The new owners have no intention of reselling the base to previous owners, nor do they plan to forbid Russian ships to access the base. The left-wing government of Jens Stoltenberg was responsible for selling the base, and now Stoltenberg himself, as the head of NATO, warns about potential threat coming from Russia.