Posts Tagged ‘Northern Sea Route’

The Maritime Executive

Monday, May 25, 2020

Russia Tightens Control Over Northern Sea Route

The Kremlin has formulated new limitations for foreign warships transiting the Northern Sea Route (NSR), the Arctic route connecting the Kola Peninsula with the Bering Strait.

In a policy change first reported by Izvestia, the Russian government now intends to require foreign governments to provide 45 days of advance notice for warship voyages along the route.

In addition, it will need the name and rank of each vessel’s master, along with all ship’s particulars, and it specifies that each ship will take aboard a Russian pilot. The move follows several months after the French Navy conducted a transit of the NSR with the supply ship BSAH Rhône. 

For legal purposes, a warship on the high seas has complete immunity from the jurisdiction of any state other than its own. Within 12 nautical miles, however, warships are required to comply with all laws and rules of the coastal state when passing through the state’s territorial sea.

The extent of the coastal state’s control over military ships conducting “innocent passage” has been a matter of debate for decades. At various points, Iran, Vietnam, China, Taiwan and many others have instituted prior notification requirements for warships in specific areas.

The United States believes these restrictions are inconsistent with international law, and the U.S. Navy regularly contests them as part of its broader Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) program.

Russia and the United States were once on the same side of this debate. During the negotiations leading up to UNCLOS in the early 1980s, Soviet diplomats joined their American counterparts to block a clause that would have allowed prior notification requirements for warship transits.

For more, see https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/russia-tightens-control-over-northern-sea-route/

 

(TASS, 9 Dec 2019)

Northern Fleet to create air defense ‘dome’ over Russian Arctic with S-400 missile systems.

Russia continues building ramified military infrastructure in the Arctic, including hi-tech lighting systems to monitor the situation in the air, on the ground and under the water, according to the Fleet top brass.

MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. The Northern Fleet will arm all its Arctic battalions with S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in coming years to create an air defense dome over the Russian Arctic, Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Alexander Moiseyev said in an interview with the Defense Ministry’s Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper on Monday.

“This year, S-400 systems will enter service with the air defense missile regiment stationed on Novaya Zemlya. There are plans to arm all our Arctic battalions with these systems in coming years and thus create an air defense dome over the Russian Arctic,” the Fleet commander said.

Also, units of a new air defense formation have gone on experimental combat duty in Tiksi to provide security of the airspace over the Northern Sea Route, he added. (emphasis added)

“In the future, we are planning to build up the air defense capabilities of Russia’s northern frontiers,” the vice-admiral stressed.

To read entire article: https://tass.com/defense/1097107

Rosatom to enter market of commercial transshipment via Northern Sea Route in 2027

It will provide a transit corridor between Northern Europe and East Asia

MOSCOW, November 28. /TASS/. Russia’s state corporation Rosatom plans to start large-scale transshipments between Northern Europe and East Asia via the Northern Sea Route in 2027, according to the website dedicated to the company’s procurements.

Rosatom has initiated the Northern Sea Transit Corridor project, the documents said. The aim is to expand the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route. Its development is planned through providing transshipment services along the Northern Sea Route via transit ports — the hubs on Russia’s western and eastern borders. “The start of commercial operation of the Northern Sea Transit Corridor (start of shipments) is planned for 2027,” the documents read.

There are plans to estimate the prospects of the Northern Sea Transit Corridor’s development in the period between 2027 and 2050 through a marketing research, with a respective tendering procedure having already been launched….

According to the documents, regular marine traffic along the Northern Sea Route is already underway. However, it has to do mainly with the transportation of construction cargoes and exports from Arctic mining projects (Novatek, Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil), whereas the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route remains untapped. The development plan for the Northern Sea Route has already been submitted to the Russian government, Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East Alexander Krutikov said earlier.

For more, read entire article here: https://tass.com/economy/1093735

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However… according to Polygraph.info in a March 12, 2019 article,

Russia’s New Rules for Northern Sea Route Violate International Law

New Russian rules fully regulating the Northern Sea Route violate the Law of the Sea

The Russian government has developed new rules to control the Northern Sea Route, which passes along the country’s northern coast in the Arctic, the newspaper Izvestia reported on March 6. “Russia is taking the Northern Sea Route under protection,” wrote Izvestia, in a piece headlined “A Cold Wave” – an apparent reference to the Cold War.

Russian officials claim the new regulations are designed to protect the environment and commercial shipping, in lieu (in place of) Article 234 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In reality, Russia’s new rules concern foreign military ships and military vessels, which are sovereign immune vessels and exempt from Article 234 of the Law of the Sea. Nevertheless, Russia requires foreign military ships and naval auxiliaries to give 45 days’ advance notice and obtain “permission” to use the passage. The document must include the vessel’s name, purpose, route, timetable, and technical specifications, as well as the military rank and identity of its captain. The new Russian rules require that foreign military ships take on board Russian pilots while sailing through the Arctic. Even if the foreign vessels meet all Russia’s requirements, the Russian authorities still can reject their request for passage without explanation. In the event of an unsanctioned passage, the foreign naval vessels could be arrested and even destroyed.

Russia uses the term “Northern Sea Route” (NSR) to describe the area from the Barents Sea in the west to the Bering Strait in the east. It is part of a larger transoceanic route – the Northeast Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Like the other Arctic nations, Russia is granted an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles adjacent to its shores. But the scope of the NSR as described by Moscow has been disputed by other Arctic states, which say that Russia considers the route to extend beyond its exclusive economic zone and to include the Bering Strait. Provisions of the Law of the Sea regard international straits as passages that are too narrow for the high sea or exclusive economic zone regimes to apply. Transit passages and innocent passages are fully guaranteed for vessels of other states.

“Indeed, the NSR passes not only within Russia’s territorial waters, nevertheless, our country has the legal right to regulate navigation along the entire route,” said Kamil Bekyashev, vice president of the Russian Maritime Law Association.

Does Russia indeed have the right to impose a permission regime on commercial ships and sovereign immune vessels passing through the Northern Sea Route?

“This statement appears to be out of sync with the Law of the Sea treaty,” Heather Conley, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, told Polygraph.info. “The Northern Sea Route is an international passage and this suggested wider interpretation may even call into question international use of a portion of the high seas of the Central Arctic Ocean.”

Russia has already heavily regulated commercial traffic through the Northern Sea Route, and in May 2015, the U.S. State Department sent a strongly-worded diplomatic note to Moscow warning that some aspects of Russia’s regulatory scheme were “inconsistent with international law.”

The State Department cited requirements to obtain Russia’s permission to enter and transit the exclusive economic zone and territorial sea; persistent characterization of international straits that form part of the Northern Sea Route as internal waters; and the lack of any express exemption for sovereign immune vessels.

Moscow justifies its regulation of commercial traffic by pointing to Article 234 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which allows coastal states “to adopt and enforce non-discriminatory laws and regulations for the prevention, reduction and control of marine pollution from vessels in ice-covered areas within the limits of the exclusive economic zone.”

(Washington disagrees. Read entire article for rest of this story: https://www.polygraph.info/a/fact-check-russia-claim-arctic/29817535.html)


Also please see:

https://tapister.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/northwest-passage/