Russia Expands Territorial Waters in the Baltic Sea Near Lithuania and Finland

Written by Henrik Rothen

May.23 - 2024 3:39 PM CET

Baltic Sea - Photo: Wiki Commons
Baltic Sea - Photo: Wiki Commons
Russia expands its territorial waters in the Baltic Sea, altering boundaries near Lithuania and Finland.

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Russia has decided to expand its territorial waters in the Baltic Sea, close to its borders with Lithuania and Finland. This decision comes from a draft resolution by the Russian Ministry of Defense, published on the official legal acts portal.

New Boundaries in the Baltic

According to the document, Russia plans to designate certain areas in the eastern Gulf of Finland and near the cities of Baltiysk and Zelenogradsk in the Kaliningrad region as its internal maritime waters.

This will involve updating the geographical coordinates that define the baseline points from which the width of Russia's territorial sea and adjacent zone is measured.

Adjustments Along Finnish and Lithuanian Borders

The Russian government aims to revise the coordinates in the zone around several islands near the Finnish border, including Yagry, Sommers, Gogland, Rödskär, Malyy Tyuters, and Vigryund, as well as near the northern mouth of the Narva River.

Along the Lithuanian border, the revised areas include parts of the Curonian Spit, the Taranko Peninsula, and the area south of Cape Taran and the Baltic Spit.

Modernizing Outdated Coordinates

The existing geographical coordinates, set by a 1985 Soviet government resolution, "do not fully correspond to the current geographical situation," according to the draft's authors.

These points were determined using "small-scale marine navigation charts" based on mid-20th century surveys, which "do not allow for the accurate determination of the external boundary of Russia's internal maritime waters."

The proposed changes will establish a previously missing system of straight baselines along the southern part of Russian islands in the eastern Gulf of Finland, as well as near Baltiysk and Zelenogradsk.

This will enable Russia to use these waters as its internal maritime waters and alter the course of the country's maritime border due to the shift in the external boundary of the territorial sea.

The resolution also proposes that parts of the 40-year-old Soviet decree regulating Baltic borders be "partially invalidated" (specifically the "Baltic Sea" section).

This move was presented for public discussion nearly simultaneously with the start of tactical nuclear weapon exercises by the Russian military. The Ministry of Defense announced that these exercises began in the Southern Military District, involving Iskander missile systems and aircraft armed with Kinzhal missiles. The exercises aim to prepare personnel for the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons and to respond "to provocative statements and threats from certain Western officials," according to the ministry's press service.

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