УДК 341.24


Ермолина Марина Анатольевна
Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет
кандидат юридических наук, факультет международных отношений, кафедра мировой политики

Защита и сохранение морской среды является перспективным направлением международного сотрудничества РФ с другими государствами. Приоритеты национальной морской стратегии определяются во внутреннем законодательстве. Эффективность национальной морской стратегии достигается, в том числе выполнением Российской Федерацией своих международных обязательств в этой области.


Ermolina Marina Anatolievna
St. Petersburg State University
PhD in Jurisprudence Science, Associate Professor, School of International Relations

The protection and conservation of the marine environment is quite promising field of cooperation of The Russian Federation with the other countries. The priorities of national maritime strategy ate defined in the domestic law. The effectiveness of national maritime strategy is achieved, by different means including, among others, the fulfillment by the Russian Federation of its international obligations in this field.

Keywords: pollution, protection of the marine environment, the World Ocean

Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Ермолина М.А. Legal aspects of Russia's national strategy in terms of preventing marine pollution // Политика, государство и право. 2013. № 6 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://politika.snauka.ru/2013/06/817 (дата обращения: 26.03.2023).

As it follows from the Russian Federation’s foreign policy concept ratified by the RF President on February 28, 2013, a major trend in Russia’s strategy consists in «efficient usage of water areas» [5]. It means that the state’s ultimate goal in this respect is not only «to bring into being and protect Russia’s interests in the World ocean», but also «to strengthen Russian Federation’s position amid leading sea powers» [6]. True, our country is to use high seas in order to develop its economy and in the interests of maintaining its national security, but it must be «in combination with all necessary environmental protection measures» [5]. It is, therefore, clear that protection and preservation of water areas, with due consideration of international obligations, is still a high-priority and promising guideline of Russia’s national interests.

Appropriate liabilities of Russian Federation are, in particular, directly formulated in such agreements as: UN Convention on Marine Law (1982); International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (02.11.1973), as modified in Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78); International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Case of Oil Pollution Casualties (29.11.1969); Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (29.12.1972), in conjunction with its Protocol of 1996; International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil (12.05.1954), with amendments therewith; Convention on the High Seas (29.04.1958); Convention on the Continental Shelf (29.04.1958); International Convention on Civil Liabilities for Oil Pollution Damage (1992), with amendments therewith, and in other international treaties wherein the Russian Federation participates.

Take, for instance, the Convention on the High Seas of 1958 which obliges the states to take precautions against pollution of seas by oil (clause 5), or the Convention on the Continental Shelf of 1958 which declares regulations in that a coastal state must undertake all measures giving protection and conservation of living resources against hostile impacts (clause 5). Such regulations, or standards, are laid down in those several international agreements which the Russian Federation is participating in and which have been included into the clauses of some federal laws, namely: «RF Code of merchant fleet seafaring», «On Russia’s inland waters, territorial seas and contiguous areas», «On exclusive economic zone of Russian Federation», «On continental shelf of Russian Federation», etc.

To check, however, whether the parties to corresponding treaties and agreements really do observe such regulations, sometimes is hardly possible. Yet, there is one exception, and this is a violation of imperative principles and regulations of international law, which violation constitutes a threat to the fundamentals of international security. Among such imperative regulations is, in particular, an environment protection principle[7, p. 19].

It is a well-known fact that an armed conflict between Iran and Iraq has inflected a huge damage by way of marine pollution. The countries, thus acting, put the national security in peril and make a global international system unable to function properly.

We are, therefore, much concerned about those repeatedly occurring cases of using the World Ocean as a site for strategic military actions. And we have to admit that this problem is directly referred to our country, too, as long as Russia is eager to assert itself as a sea power. It is even more so, because just recently Sergei Lavrov, a head of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, pointed out that Russia sticks to carrying out manoeuvres of naval forces at regular times [2]. The question then is: Are the national interest of Russia as a sea power equivalent to the global interests in terms of marine environment protection and conservation?

It is known that the surface of the World Ocean produces up to 70% of the Earth’s oxygen [4, p. 314]. Marine pollution is, therefore, fraught with serious hazard and aftereffects not only on biological resources of the World Ocean but also on ecological safety of all mankind.

A few international treaties with Russian Federation comprise the regulations and standards forbiding marine pollution, and these are, in the first place, the International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Case of Oil Pollution Casualties (29.11.1969) and the Protocol of 1973 therewith; and the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (29.12.1972) along with the Protocol of 1966, as well as some other important international agreements on preventing marine pollution.

By reading thoroughly the clauses of conventions one comes to a conclusion that should a danger of marine pollution become imminent, a choice to be made must be based upon careful consideration of possible ecological aftereffects.

In the course of time we shall see if there is a political necessity for using the World Ocean in such a way that is potentially dangerous for the bodies of water worldwide. So far, however, such way can hardly be justified.

There are, unfortunately, some other international problems concerning this subject matter that are not solved yet. Thus, because of national economic preferences some companies have to increase output and intensify a process of extracting hydrocarbons and other mineral resources from a seabed. A so-called, and to much extent exaggerated, deficit in hydrocarbons entails inflation of prices for oil; hence, a rise in prices accordingly results in higher financial risks, which, in turn, compels the companies to economize at the expense of reducing ecology risks [14].

And thus, with ever increasing number of shelf projects catastrophies come one after another, e.g. a fire in Timor Sea in 2009, a fire and breakdown of a drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and that means that none of the companies is really able to guarantee safety in subwater hydrocarbon extraction in a shelf zone [14]. We were far from citing all disastrous events, and yet the economical preferences that countries lay down in their national strategies are related directly with economic activities in this field of interest.

The effect of such troublesome situation is known to be catastrophic [1]. Furthermore, Russia still faces a problem of shipping oil and oil products by sea. It is a known fact that in the recent years Baltic countries were really worried about a drastic increase in a volume of such shipping and official representatives of these countries handed down their strongly negative opinion.

Thus, Rene Nuberg, an ambassador of Finland to Russia, expressed well-grounded anxiety about construction activities in launching the 2nd and the 3rd phases of the Baltic pipeline system in the Gulf of Finland and she warned that «the Baltic sea will surely fail to withstand such a heavy duty». Her arguments are based on that should this project be launched in full swing, every year the Baltic Sea will contain some «100 million tons of crude oil and oil products» [8].

On the other hand, it is a known fact that Baltic countries do show interest in a rise of oil export from Russia [8], but this in no way means that they yielded to the state of affairs: a threat of oil pollution is till serious enough, and this surely infringes on both international and national interests.

Thus, according to data available a freight turnover of the Baltic sea ports in the 1st quarter of 2013 only increased by 7.2%, as compared to expected 6%, and amounted to 136.6 million tons of cargo. Again, shipping of cargo in bulk (liquids) went up to 80.9 million tons (an increment of 11.2%), that of oil products – 26.6 million tons (increasing by 0.2%), and crude oil – 50.4 million tons (accruing to 10,7%) [9].

And at the same time Russia’s national marine stategy is based on a fact that marine shipping in RF is an extremely important element in terms of ensuring proper functioning of domestic freight traffic network, especially in those areas where sea transport is the only one for shipping, and in the RF’s foreign economic activity as well [6].

In 2010 Dmitry Medvedev, then the Presisent of Russian Federation, anounced that «Russia, with its unique experience and its technical resources and skilled personnel, can well become an initiator of launching a global and trans-European system of emergency control… What we need is to start tackling our major task – to exchange the best practices and thus to prevent oil spills and liquidate aftereffects thereof» [10].

The following is to be done in order to prevent marine pollution and to preserve marine environment:

-         to take measures precluding oil spills while oil exploration, recovery and transportation;

-         to encourage construction and to purchase a home-made equipment designed to prevent pollution and eliminate secondary results thereof;

-         to reinforce Russian fleet with special vessels for maintaining environmental control, etc. [6]

Federal budget, however, does not directly stipulates money for the said means and measures, but at the same time there is a separate budget line of the Federal task-oriented program «World Ocean» [11] which provides for quite impressive funds to open up sea areas and for military naval actions in the World Ocean [13].

Thus we come to a conclusion that a main problem of Russia in carrying out its international agreements for preventing marine pollution is to check whether a declared discharge of assumed obligations, financing of environment protection measures, etc, does correspond to actual fulfillment thereof.

It seems quite obvious that Russia’s scope of interests regarding the World Ocean should focus, first of all, on Russia’s more efficient participation in multi-purpose conventions and international organizations. It is now particularly important, as long as one of benchmarks in Russia’s national marine strategy just stipulates for carrying out its international obligations in this sphere «with due regard for practical abilities of international cooperation» [6].

It was this issue that the RF Minister of Foreign Affairs pointed out at one international conference on «Quality of international cooperation in Baltic region and Northern Europe». That is what Sergei Lavrov said: «We think that cooperation, which has been established between the committees, as well as with Northern Dimension Partnership and Helsinki Committee for Baltic Sea Environmental Protection, is also vitally needed in a sphere that is important to any of the parties. This, for instance, could be marine environmental protection, especially in terms of preventing oil spills and organizing joined actions when eliminating such oil spills» [3.]


It is true that the only way to effectively pursue national strategy in this sphere is to take on properly specified obligations for marine environmental protection and, if possible, to recruit the international organizations concerned with this matter in order to check how, and whether properly enough, these obligations are discharged. Such being the case, Russia will, no doubt, not only prove its «sea-power» status, but will consolidate its position in relations with European countries» [15,16]. And it stands to reason, because, as we know, it is the particulars that form up a «political image» of any country.

  1. Alimov A.A. Economic and political aspects of regional ecological safety // Actual problems of world politics in the 21st century: Collection of articles / Edited by V.S. Yagya, M.L. Lagutina. SPb: SPb State University, 2011, pp. 336–345.
  2. Opening address and answers to questions of the media by Sergei Lavrov, RF Minister of Foreign Affairs, at press conference on results of Russia’s diplomacy in 2012. Mosсow, January 23, 2013. //http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/804D3CB775E6CC4044257AFC003FE53D
  3. Interview of Sergei Lavrov as a RF Minister of foreighn affairs to Yantarny Most Journal, № 3 (7), 2012 //http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/
  4. Kolodkin A.L., Gutsulyak V.N., Bobrova Yu.V. International and judicial problems concerning protection and preservation of marine environment // World Ocean. International and juridical regulations. Basic problems. – Moscow: Statute, 2007, p. 314.
  5. «Russian Federation’s foreign policy concept» (ratified by the RF President on 12.02.2013) //http://base.consultant.ru
  6. «Marine Doctrine of Russian Federation for a period up to 2020» (ratified by the RF President on 27.07.2001) //http://base.consultant.ru/
  7. Marine Law. Manual / Edited by V.F. Sidorchenko, М.V. Krotov. – SPb: Published by Department of law, SPb State University, 2006, p.19.
  8. Nuberg R. A Sea of Tanker Discord. The Finns think that everlasting increase of the flow of traffic in the Baltic Sea should not be allowed //http://marinetanker.com/index.php?m
  9. The bulk of sea shipping is increasing // http://www.forum-cb.ru/news1/obemy
  10. The RF President’s message to the Federal Assembly on 30.11.2010. «A Message of Dmitry Medvedev, the President of RF, to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation» //http://base.consultant.ru
  11. RF Government Regulation Nr 919, dated 10.08.1998 (revised on 18.12.2012): «On Federal Task-Oriented Program «World Ocean» //http://base.consultant.ru/cons/cgi/online.cgi?req=doc;base=LAW;n=140012
  12. Sidorchenko V.F. General Average. SPb: Published by Department of law, SPb State University, 2004.
  13. Federal Law Nr 216-FZ, dated 03.12.2012: «On federal budget for 2013 and for a planning period of 2014-2015» //http://www.pravo.gov.ru; RF Government Regulation Nr 919, dated 10.08.1998 (revised on 18.12.2012): «On Federal Task-Oriented Program «World Ocean» //http://www.consultant.ru/search/
  14. Chestin I.N.. Recovery of oil in the Arctic: it is not profitable and it is dangerous. //http://www.eco-pravda.ru/page.php?id=4696
  15. Yagya V.S. Baltic concept and St Petersburg’s mission at the turn of two centures. // Ten years of foreign diplomacy of Russia: proceedings of the 1st convention of Russian Association for internationsl researches / Edited by А.М. Torkunov. Мoscow: ROSSPEN, 2003, pp. 708-716.
  16. Kharlampyeva N.K. A methodology for research of international cooperation on marine environment protection: application of the Baltic Sea practices to the northern seas // Baltic Region. 2011, Nr 1 (7), pp. 12-20.

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