Russia Revises Maritime Borders in the Baltic Sea

Russia has unilaterally decided to change its maritime borders in the Baltic Sea with Lithuania and Finland, according to a Russian draft document decree released yesterday.

Why? Russia says the borders must change because they “do not fully correspond to the current geographical situation.” It added that the geographic coordinates are based off mid-20th century “small-scale marine navigation charts” and are therefore partially “recognized as ineffective.”

The border changes revolve around Russian islands off the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Finnish President Alexander Stubb said, “The country’s leadership is following the situation closely. Russia has not been in contact with Finland on the matter.”

Lithuania’s foreign minister said, “This is further proof that Russia’s aggressive and revisionist policy is a threat to the security of neighboring countries and Europe as a whole.”

Tug-of-war: Since Finland and Sweden joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization last year, many have referred to the Baltic Sea as “nato’s lake.” But that is only true so long as nato can contest Russia’s movement both on land and sea. The Baltic Sea is a crucial strategic gateway for Russia—it will not be pushed out easily.

In addition to expanding its maritime borders, Russia has also been flying surveillance aircraft over the Baltic Sea. And it announced the start of tactical nuclear weapons exercises not long before the draft document.

Building tension: Actions like this are worrying Europe. The document is only part of a long string of Russian aggression close to Europe’s borders, which are precursors to a much greater conflict.

Learn more: Read our Trends article “Why the Trumpet Watches Russia’s Return to Superpower Status.”