Estonia plans to close the Gulf of Finland to Russia

The Estonian government plans to inspect russian warships and civilian ships.

The Estonian government is planning to establish a coastal "contiguous zone" in the Gulf of Finland, which will close off russian shipping through it, UNIAN reports.

This measure will allow Estonia to apply its laws within 24 nautical miles from the Estonia coast, said Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu.

Image credits: Business Insider

“The contiguous zone is a sea territory adjacent to the territorial waters which can be imposed by domestic law and where each coastal state can exercise control and punish for various violations of its laws,” explained Alexandr Lott, lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Tartu.

According to him, the right of the state in the "contiguous zone" extends to customs and tax issues, as well as sanitary and immigration regulations.

Officially, Estonia denies that it is going to introduce a "contiguous zone" in order to more effectively apply sanctions against russia. But according to Lott, this is one of the hidden motives. At the same time, Estonia will be eligible to pursue violators beyond the boundaries of the territorial sea. In fact, this will allow Estonia to inspect russian warships and civilian ships sailing out of the ports of the Leningrad Region and Kronstadt. If inspections are not granted, the ships will be banned from navigating through the Gulf of Finland.

Estonia's position on the war

Since russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Tallinn has strongly supported Kyiv. In terms of the ratio of military aid to GDP, Estonia has become a leader. Arms supplies from the Baltic state to our country exceeded 1% of GDP.

On January 19, Estonia announced a record military aid package  for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It includes dozens of 155mm and 122mm howitzers, thousands of artillery shells and over a hundred Carl-Gustav anti-tank guns.

A month ago, Estonia handed over personal protective equipment for Ukrainian soldiers.

Besides, Tallinn stands for reducing the marginal price of russian oil. This will help to increase sanctions pressure on the russian federation.

Last, but not the least, on 23 January 2023 the russian Foreign Ministry announced that it would expel the Estonian ambassador from the country and downgrade the level of relations with the country. The Ministry noted that Estonian Ambassador Margus Laidre would have to leave Russia on 7 February 2023, while chargé d'affaires will now represent the country’s interests in russia. Tallinn reciprocated by expelling the russian envoy later.

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