Baltic Sea: Does Russia want to move its maritime borders?

Baltic Sea: Does Russia want to move its maritime borders?

Russia has been waging war in Ukraine for more than two years. Now the country has announced possible changes to its maritime borders. Even if much is still unclear, the neighbors are alarmed.

A Russian draft law on the possible redefinition of its maritime borders in the Baltic Sea is causing confusion and great excitement among neighboring countries. “This is further proof that Russia’s aggressive and revisionist policy poses a threat to the security of neighboring countries and the whole of Europe,” the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said.

The background is a Ministry of Defense initiative published in the Russian government’s legal database to “determine geographical coordinates” to determine the border lines in various parts of the Baltic Sea. The reason for the project was that the old coordinates established during Soviet times were inaccurate and did not allow a continuous border line to be drawn.

The Defense Ministry specifically refers to a maritime area south of the Russian islands in the Gulf of Finland and to sections near the cities of Baltiysk and Zelenogradsk in the Kaliningrad region. The approach allows “the corresponding sea area to be used as a Russian inland sea,” the document says. However, several Russian agencies reported, citing a source in military-diplomatic circles, that the proposed law was not about expanding Russian territory. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the project had no political background. Since the afternoon, the initiative has disappeared from the legal database without giving any reasons. What significance this could have is unclear.

The alarm bells are still ringing in neighboring countries. Russia’s actions could be viewed as a “conscious, targeted and escalating provocation” intended to intimidate neighboring countries and their societies, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said. Accordingly, the Russian envoy should be summoned to give a detailed explanation. Lithuania wants to coordinate a response with its partners.

Finland wants to wait for confirmation from Moscow

The assessment in Finland was somewhat more cautious. The authorities there want to first check the information from Russian media. “Russia has not contacted Finland on this matter. Finland is acting as always: calmly and on the basis of facts,” wrote President Alexander Stubb on X.

Sweden’s army chief Micael Biden warned of Moscow’s ambitions in the Baltic Sea – especially with a view to the Swedish island of Gotland. “I’m sure that Putin even has both eyes on Gotland,” Biden told the editorial network Germany. “Putin’s goal is to gain control of the Baltic Sea. (…) For Putin the Baltic Sea is just as important as it is important for us that it remains open and safe.”

Source: Stern

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