chapter  11
16 Pages

Who may sail the Arctic?

Russia’s and the EU’s perspectives on the legal status of the Northern sea route
WithEdmunds Broks

This chapter looks into potential differences between Russia and the European Union (EU) on the legal status of the Northern Sea Route‘s (NSR) waters. It briefly outlines the history of Russian sovereignty claims over Arctic water and deals with an assessment of the main legal arguments by which Russia justifies its NSR regime. Namely: that Russia holds a historic title over the NSR and that straits along the NSR are Russia's internal water. It includes that as a coastal state with ice-covered seas Russia has a right to adopt and enforce non-discriminatory laws for the protection of the environment within the NSR. The chapter also looks into the EU's position on the legal status of the NSR and draw conclusions. By labeling the NSR a "historically formed national transport route" Russia seems to emphasize the very same considerations that played a central role in the 1951 Fisheries case.