Russia unilaterally redraws Baltic Sea borders with Finland and Lithuania

Moscow Times, citing a draft government decree published on the legal acts portal, has reported Russia's decision to unilaterally alter its maritime boundaries with Lithuania and Finland in the Baltic Sea.

The Russian Defence Ministry has prepared a document declaring parts of the eastern Gulf of Finland and areas near the cities of Baltiysk and Zelenogradsk in the Kaliningrad region as Russia's internal maritime waters.

This will involve changing the geographical coordinates of points used to determine the baseline from which Russia's territorial sea and the adjacent zone off the coast and islands are measured.

On the Finnish border, the Russian government aims to adjust coordinates near Jahih, Sommers, Goland, Rodsher, Maly Tyuters, Vigrund islands, and around the northern entrance of the Narva River, according to an annex to the government's decree.

On the Lithuanian border, the review will affect areas of the Curonian Spit in the Gulf of Gdansk and the regions around Cape Taran, a cape south of Cape Taran, and the Baltic Spit.

The current geographical coordinates established by a 1985 Soviet government decree "do not fully correspond to the modern geographical situation," authors of the project claim.

The points were determined "based on small-scale maritime navigation charts," which were themselves based on mid-20th-century work, making it "impossible to determine the outer boundary of Russia's internal maritime waters," the document states.

As a result of these changes, "a previously absent system of straight baselines will be established in the southern areas of Russian islands in the eastern Gulf of Finland and around Baltiysk and Zelenogradsk, allowing the relevant area to be used as Russia's internal maritime waters. Moreover, the national border of the Russian Federation at sea will change due to the alteration of the outer boundary of the territorial sea."

The Soviet government decree from 40 years ago that regulates Baltic Sea boundaries is suggested to be partially "invalidated" by the Russian Defence Ministry.

The boundary review document, which has not been officially commented on by the Finnish or Lithuanian foreign ministries, was submitted for public discussion almost simultaneously with the start of tactical nuclear weapons exercises.

The Russian Defence Ministry has announced that these exercises have commenced in the Southern Military District, involving Iskander missile systems and aviation equipped with Kinzhal missiles.

  Baltic Sea, Finland, Lithuania