Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Foreign naval vessels can use Northern Sea Route only with Russia’s advance approval, Moscow says

A Russian military base in the Arctic (Image: Youtube)
A Russian military base in the Arctic (Image: Youtube)
Foreign naval vessels can use Northern Sea Route only with Russia’s advance approval, Moscow says
Edited by: A. N.

As of next year, foreign military vessels will be allowed to traverse the Northern Sea Route only after Moscow gives them approval in advance, the head of Russia’s National Center for Defense Administration, says, yet another case of Moscow’s efforts to project its control into the Arctic far beyond its coastal waters or economic exclusion zones.

Mikhail Mizintsev says that this notification requirement, which will go into effect at the start of next year’s navigation season, has been developed by an inter-agency working group committed to “liquidating a legal vacuum” concerning the use of the route by foreign navies.

At one level, what Moscow is proposing is both reasonable and proper. Notification is likely necessary to ensure that there aren’t too many vessels in one part of the route at any one time and to comply with passage through Russia’s territorial waters or economic exclusion zones.

The Arctic Trefoil, a newly-built Russian military base on Alexandra Land island near the North Pole (Image:
The Arctic Trefoil, a newly-built Russian military base on Alexandra Land island near the North Pole (Image:

But at another, especially in the wake of Moscow’s efforts to transform the Sea of Azov from an international waterway to a Russian body of water and because rapidly warming conditions in the Arctic mean that foreign ships may be able to transit that ocean without passing through internationally recognized Russian territorial waters, it is an expansive claim.

As such, it is at least potentially a violation of the Law of the Sea that should spark protests by the West on that basis alone. Unfortunately, the United States is not in a position to lodge that kind of protest because it has never ratified the Law of the Sea agreement. But that does not mean that it should not be protested and even challenged by Washington.

If nothing is said in advance of January 1, 2019, it is very likely that Moscow will treat its latest move as having created what diplomats like to call “facts on the ground” and use it as yet another stepping stone toward the transformation of the Arctic into an overwhelmingly Russian body of water.

Edited by: A. N.
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Will the West continue to support Ukraine?
    • Know what moves the world.
    • Premium journalism from across Europe.
    • Tailored to your needs, translated into English.
    Special discount
    for Euromaidan Press readers
    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!