Espreso. Global

Russia wants to change borders in Baltic Sea: why this scenario is threatening

22 May, 2024 Wednesday
14:57

The Kremlin pursues a perilous agenda by proposing a review of maritime borders in the Baltic Sea, with Russia's Defense Ministry suggesting the declaration of new boundaries

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Defense Express writes that a whole range of formal explanations has been concocted in Moscow, including the assertion that current borders "do not correspond to the modern geographical situation."

On one hand, this is an attempt to avoid the "closure" of the Baltic Sea, which Estonia could enforce by introducing an adjacent zone to its 12-mile territorial waters. The issue lies in the fact that there are currently neutral waters in the Gulf of Finland, accessible to Russia. However, their elimination would allow for the establishment of control over Russian military and civilian vessels, and even conduct searches.

Hence, the proposal from the Russian Ministry of Defense specifies a review of borders, more precisely, the declaration of their own waters in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland. This implies potential territorial claims not only by Estonia but also by Finland. Additionally, the new borders are sought to be drawn in the vicinity of the cities of Baltiysk and Zelenogradsk, both in the Kaliningrad Oblast. It should be noted that this is already about attempts to alter the border adjacent to Poland.

Meanwhile, how exactly Russia intends to change the borders remains unknown. Currently, there is no official text of the proposal with specified coordinates. It's worth noting that this initiative is being pursued through the Russian government, which could simply enact the corresponding decree.

The situation regarding the potential declaration of new borders by Russia currently resembles an extremely threatening scenario. Firstly, it involves a review of borders with NATO countries, which have long been considered the most likely targets of Russian aggression. This all pertains to the intention to annex the Baltic countries and the Suwałki Corridor to Kaliningrad.

Secondly, the timeframe for these new borders to come into effect, if the decree is adopted, is January 2025. It's during the winter of 2024-2025 that Western analysts consider an extremely precarious time, with the highest likelihood of Russian aggression against the European segment of NATO.

According to the publication, reasoned assumptions surfaced in December 2023 suggesting that the Kremlin might contemplate an attack on the EU within a year. This speculation arises because in November 2024, elections are scheduled in the US, with the inauguration traditionally set for January 20. Moreover, Trump's stance on NATO participation and fulfilling its obligations as a member of the Alliance has become an extremely dangerous signal, well noted in the EU. Furthermore, this is almost an invitation for the Kremlin.

Against this backdrop, it is possible to hypothesize that the scenario currently being developed in the Kremlin is rather linear and based on the traditional tactics of pressure and gradual escalation. Specifically, while Washington is focused on its own political aspects this winter, Russia declares its new borders, which, although affecting, are not critical to the borders of other NATO countries.

Subsequently, the Kremlin assesses the reaction, and if it once again hears "deep concern," understanding that the EU is unlikely to be prepared for active actions for the sake of "a few meters" in the sea, especially without a guarantee of US assistance. Following this, the Kremlin intensifies its presence at the self-proclaimed borders and de facto secures them. With such a marker of NATO's real readiness, the Kremlin will be much more confident in its plans regarding the Baltic countries.

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