Russia summons Norwegian ambassador over arrest of Russian nationals

A view shows a building of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Christ The Savior cathedral in Moscow

(Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday it had summoned the Norwegian ambassador over what it said was the politically-motivated arrest of Russian citizens for using drones illegally, while Norway said the arrests were legal.

Several Russian citizens have been arrested by Norwegian authorities for flying drones, coming after the Nordic country boosted security following suspected sabotage on the Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea.

Russia and NATO-member Norway share a border in the Arctic. The Nordic country is now the European Union's largest gas supplier, following a drop in Russian gas flows.

"It was noted that the sentences against the Russians were politically motivated and had nothing to do with the principles of fair and impartial justice," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russian flights have been banned from Norwegian airspace since Feb. 28, due to Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. This includes Russians flying drones as well as Russian companies flying commercial planes and helicopters.

Norway said its ambassador had used the meeting to inform Russia about the Nordic country's sanction legislation.

"He also reviewed the status of the cases that are now being processed by Norwegian courts," said a spokesperson for the Norwegian foreign ministry.

"The meeting was held in a good tone."

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Editing by William Maclean)