Russia Is Threatening to Expand Its Borders Again—This Time in the Baltic Sea


Russia’s Defense Ministry has unilaterally moved to revise the borders of Russian territorial waters in the Baltic Sea, drafting a government decree on the expansion without even bothering to notify NATO members Finland and Lithuania.

In reaction to the surprised responses of the Baltic Sea states, the Kremlin on Wednesday issued a statement that seems bound only to make matters worse. Insisting that there’s “nothing political” about the proposed border change, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in the same breath that the “political situation” has in fact “changed significantly” since the borders were drawn.

“You see how tensions are escalating, what the level of confrontation is, especially in the Baltic region. This requires our agencies to take corresponding steps to ensure security,” he told reporters, using language that sounds awfully similar to Putin’s oft-repeated claim that invading Ukraine was necessary for “security” against NATO.

Shortly after his comments, as more and more Western leaders reacted to the news with alarm, the draft decree was suddenly deleted.

“The state border of the Russian Federation at sea will change,” read the now-deleted draft decree, which was published on a government portal Tuesday. The decree would take effect in January 2025 if approved.

The Defense Ministry argued that the 1985 measurement used to determine borders relied on outdated charts and thus must be “invalidated.” The border around Russian islands in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland and around Kaliningrad would then be adjusted, though the decree provided no specifics on what the adjustment would entail.

The move apparently came as a shock to Lithuania and Finland.

“Russia has not been in contact with Finland in the matter,” Finnish President Alexander Stubb wrote on X, adding that “the political leadership is monitoring the situation closely.”

Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen urged Russia to stick to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and stop “causing confusion.”

“This is an obvious escalation against NATO and the EU, and must be met with an appropriately firm response,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, in comments to the TT news agency, bluntly said: “Russia can’t unilaterally decide on new borders.”

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