U.S. cannot utilize mechanisms of treaty to contest Russian claims as a non party to UNCLOS
[ Page 36 ]
Like the other Arctic nations, except the U.S., Russia is a signatory to UNLOS. The USSR became a signatory in 1982; UNCLOS was later ratified in 1997 by the Russian Federation.117 Russia has utilized the provisions of UNCLOS to advance sovereignty, especially along the Northern Sea trade route, which passes through Russia’s northern Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Russia is using UNCLOS provisions in an attempt to exercise control over the Northern Sea route by requiring vessels to seek permits and submit their vessels to inspection due to the ice conditions. This is considered an overreach of authority by the U.S., which is protesting the plans.118 As a non-party to UNCLOS, the U.S. cannot utilize the established means of the treaty to protest.
Tension between Russia and other Arctic nations will remain high as they continue to compete for Arctic territory. Maintaining UNCLOS as a viable legal framework for settling Arctic territorial claims should help avert potential confrontations between Russia and other UNCLOS members.