Russia Accuses U.S. Of Illegally Expanding Sea Boundaries. But Russia Has Been Trying To Push Boundaries For Decades.
Jorge Mantilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images

According to TASS, the Russian state-owned news agency, Russia is objecting to what it calls the United States’ “illegal attempts to unilaterally change the external boundaries of the continental shelf” in regions of the oceans around the world.

In advance of the council of the International Seabed Authority meetings between March 18 and March 29, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the U.S. of moving its boundaries.

“During the session, the Russian delegation announced its non-recognition of the outer boundaries of the continental shelf declared unilaterally by the United States in December 2023 beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the width of the territorial sea is measured in seven regions of the World Ocean,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “Earlier, the American side was sent a corresponding demarche via a bilateral line.”

But it was Russia that claimed in December it wanted an extended continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. During the 13th International Arctic Forum, Russian Navy chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov stated, “There is need for a full-scale expansion into the continental shelf beyond the borders of the 200-mile exclusive economic zone.”

As far back as 2001, Russia asked the U.N. to let them expand the  Arctic Seabed; the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) rejected the submission. “In 2015, Moscow re-submitted an updated claim” and did so again in March 2021. “In all, Russia’s continental shelf as proposed would encompass almost 70 percent of the Arctic Ocean, overlapping EEZ’s of other Arctic countries such as Denmark and Canada,” The Maritime Executive noted.

The 1982 Law of the Sea Convention issued a legal framework for the use and protection of the sea, stating guidelines with respect to states’ navigational rights, maritime zones and boundaries, and economic jurisdiction. The United States has never ratified the convention. In 2012, when 34 senators opposed ratification, Sen. Rob Portman, (R-OH), stated:

We simply are not persuaded that decisions by the International Seabed Authority and international tribunals empowered by this treaty will be more favorable to U.S. interests than bilateral negotiations, voluntary arbitration, and other traditional means of resolving maritime issues. No international the seas, and we are confident that our nation will continue to protect its navigational freedom, valid territorial claims, and other maritime rights. On balance, we believe that the treaty’s litigation exposure and impositions on U.S. sovereignty outweigh its potential benefits.

The Heritage Foundation outlined its opposition to ratification by noting “U.S. membership in the convention would not confer any maritime right or freedom that the U.S. does not already enjoy. … U.S. accession would penalize U.S. companies by subjecting them to the whims of an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy and would force them to pay excessive fees to the International Seabed Authority for redistribution to developing countries. … it will be required to transfer a large portion of royalties generated on the U.S. extended continental shelf to the International Seabed Authority, and, through the authority, to corrupt and undemocratic nations. … it will be exposed to climate change lawsuits and other environmental actions brought against it by other members of the convention.”

Former President Barack Obama wanted the U.S. to join the convention, saying in 2013, “Only by joining the convention can we maximize legal certainty and best secure international recognition of our sovereign rights with respect to the U.S. extended continental shelf in the Arctic and elsewhere.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Russia Accuses U.S. Of Illegally Expanding Sea Boundaries. But Russia Has Been Trying To Push Boundaries For Decades.