Russia has advanced unlawful maritime claims in the Arctic, says Blinken 

Reuters
Reykjavik   Published: May 18, 2021, 08:22 PM(IST)

A file photo of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken  Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The US has previously accused Russia of demanding foreign vessels to request permissions to pass and requiring Russian maritime pilots to board the ships, while threatening to use force against vessels failing to comply

Russia has advanced unlawful maritime claims in the Arctic region, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday, as he reiterated calls to avoid militarisation of the region. 

The US has previously accused Russia of demanding foreign vessels to request permissions to pass and requiring Russian maritime pilots to board the ships, while threatening to use force against vessels failing to comply. 

"We've seen Russia advance unlawful maritime claims, particularly its regulation of foreign vessels transiting the Northern Sea route, which are inconsistent with international law," Blinken said at a joint briefing with Iceland's foreign minister in Reykjavik.  

Russia has ambitious plans to build ports along the so-called Northern Sea Route, which would shorten the distance between China and Europe, and has beefed up its military presence along its Arctic coastline.  

"We have concerns about some of the increased military activities in the Arctic," Blinked said. This increases the risk of 'accidents and miscalculations', he said, while it 'undermined the shared goal of a peaceful and sustainable future for the region'.  

In attempts to defend freedom of access and navigation on the Northern Sea Route, the US navy twice last year conducted exercises with European allies in the Barents Sea close to Russia for the first time since the mid-1980s. 

The US has urged Russia to submit its regulatory scheme to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for consideration, but Russia had yet to do so, Blinken said.  

"The regulatory scheme that Russia has put forward does not give due regard, as required by international law, to navigation rights and freedom to the territorial seas and exclusive economic zone," he said.   

Read in App