The (In)applicability of the Right of Innocent Passage in the Gulf of Finland – Russia’s Return to a Mare Clausum?

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
Alexander Lott Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea, Faculty of Law, University of Tromsø – UiT The Arctic University of Norway Tromsø Norway
School of Law, University of Tartu Tallinn Estonia

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The Gulf of Finland has one of the busiest shipping routes globally and is the main export channel for Russian oil and gas. The Russian Federation has not closed its territorial sea for the east-west passage of ships to and from its ports. However, it has blocked over the past dozen years the north-south passage of an Estonian-Finnish commercial ferry line that has not received the Russian Federation’s permission for crossing its territorial sea. The Russian Federation’s permit-based passage regime caused the closure of that ferry line in 2007 and reportedly still hinders its re-establishment. In this context, the Russian Federation’s practice on the right of innocent passage through its territorial sea in the Gulf of Finland resembles the Soviet Union’s practice prior to the 1989 Jackson Hole statement.

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