Russian Submarines in the European Baltic Sea -unusual visitors during the holiday season

JTJB Network Legal Update July 2018

In case you went on a sailing or other boat trip in the Baltic Sea this July, you might have spotted some other sights apart from off-shore wind parks or cargo vessels.

A number of Russian submarines are on their way through the Baltic Sea to St Petersburg for attending a military parade by the end of July.

Some of these vessels belong to the so called “Typhoon – Class”, are up to 172 m long, and belong to the largest submarines in the world.

Navigating through the high seas in international waters and forming up for a parade in their home country does not seem too unusual not to mention in any way sinister.

However, the transit passage of those submarines took place just after the recent NATO Summit in Brussels and before and during the meeting between President Trump and President Putin in Helsinki.

What could be interpreted as a “demonstration of power” was and is legal:

It is however interesting when we look at the closeness of the Baltic Sea to its coast states, including Russia.

All coast states have proclaimed a zone of 12 nautical miles (nm) territorial waters, whereby between some countries (e.g. Finland and Estonia) the strait between them is so narrow, leaving a very slim belt for international passage between them.

Also, all Baltic costal states have proclaimed exclusive economic zones (EEC), which can be extended up to 200nm according to the UN- Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The natural geographical conditions in the Baltic Sea restrict the EECs considerably, leaving no sea space free of any economic activities of the coastal states (such as fishing and wind off-shore parks).

Transit passage for all vessels is permitted through the EEC´s. However, the Russian submarines were escorted by vessels of the Danish, Swedish and Finish Marine and the German Federal Police.

So any participant of navigation last month in the Baltic Sea could consider themselves very well protected.

For Further Information, Please Contact:
eva Eva-Maria Braje, LL.M. (Cardiff)
Attorney at Law (German Bar), Solicitor (England & Wales)
Partnerschaft von Rechtsanwälten mbB Tarpen 40, Building 9
22419 Hamburg, Germany