“Russia is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” as Winston Churchill famously put it. Nothing could be truer. Deep inside the Arctic Circle entering Russia for the first time, and through a back door,
I feel anxious and exhilarated.
I leave Norway for the Russian frontier, a 15-kilometre electrified stretch of no man’s land. Stopping or leaving the vehicle is strictly prohibited. The driver speeds through a blizzard, past cyrillic signs and into the dense taiga. A Russian soldier appears and checks passports... for a third time. As night falls we cross the checkpoint and continue past watch towers and into the coniferous forest...