Russia set to limit warships crossing Northeast Passage

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – With ice breaking up on the top of the world, Russia on Friday declared itself a nautical gatekeeper.

Moscow will restrict the passage of foreign warships along the country’s increasingly important Northeast Passage, said the Russian Defense Ministry, "to eliminate the legal vacuum in the use of the northern sea route."

Starting in 2019, the passage of the foreign navies will be allowed only upon preliminary notification, Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the National Defense Management Center, said at a conference in Moscow.

The Northeast Passage, the shortest sea route between Europe and Eastern Asia, is currently too ice bound for passage much of the year, but with global warming, that could change, making the route more attractive for navies and commerce alike.