Supervisor: Professor Lauri Mälksoo
Professor Dr. Eric Franckx (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Professor Heiki Lindpere (Eesti Mereakadeemia)
The Russian Federation, though already the largest country on Earth in terms of land size, is currently seeking for control and "ownership" over additional water and underwater spaces. As an independent state subject to international regulations, Russia uses the framework of international law of the sea to justify and satisfy its maritime claims. However, at the example of Russia's legal practice in the Arctic Ocean, the Caspian Sea, the region of Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and the Baltic Sea analyzed in this thesis, it is evident that in different cases Russia "speaks" the language of international law the sea differently depending on the political and economic outcomes the state aims to achieve. Similarly, Russia's adherence to legal and binding international maritime boundary agreements is rather voluntary depending on whether the treaty favors Russian interests. In the spirit of Russia's imperial past, this controversial and ambiguous state practice in the field of international law of the sea reflects Russia's intent to maintain continuous dominion over adjacent water spaces and support its "Great Power" position. It is the reflection of extensive concept of state sovereignty as understood by Russian state authorities and leading legal and political specialists. Through application of extensive concept of state sovereignty to the international law of the sea, Russia wants to achieve territorial and economic sovereignty over additional maritime spaces that in turn shall grant the state absolute control over vast supplies of hydrocarbons, mostly oil and gas. Russia's position in the law of the sea is the position of a "Great Power" that sees international law as a tool used to establish and reach its utmost goal, the absolute control and power over resources. On this ambitious path, however, there are various restrictions that Russia needs to follow in order to get closer to the desired results.