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Transnational Issues
 
 
 
 
 
 

Disputes – International

China and Russia have demarcated the once disputed islands at the Amur and Ussuri confluence and in the Argun River in accordance with the 2004 Agreement, ending their centuries-long border disputes. The sovereignty dispute over the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai group, known in Japan as the 'Northern Territories' and in Russia as the 'Southern Kurils', occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, and claimed by Japan, remains the primary sticking point to signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities.

Russia and Georgia agree on delimiting all but small, strategic segments of the land boundary and the maritime boundary. OSCE observers monitor volatile areas such as the Pankisi Gorge in the Akhmeti region and the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia signed equidistance boundaries in the Caspian seabed but the littoral states have no consensus on dividing the water column.

Russia and Norway dispute their maritime limits in the Barents Sea and Russia's fishing rights beyond Svalbard's territorial limits within the Svalbard Treaty zone. Various groups in Finland advocate restoration of Karelia (Kareliya) and other areas ceded to the Soviet Union following the Second World War but the Finnish Government asserts no territorial demands.

In May 2005, Russia recalled its signatures to the 1996 border agreements with Estonia (1996) and Latvia (1997), when the two Baltic states announced issuance of unilateral declarations referencing Soviet occupation and ensuing territorial losses. Russia demands better treatment of ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia. Estonian citizen groups continue to press for realignment of the boundary based on the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty that would bring the now divided ethnic Setu people and parts of the Narva region within Estonia. Lithuania and Russia committed to demarcating their boundary in 2006 in accordance with the land and maritime treaty ratified by Russia in May 2003 and by Lithuania in 1999. Lithuania operates a simplified transit regime for Russian nationals travelling from the Kaliningrad coastal exclave into Russia, while still conforming, as an EU member state with an EU external border, where strict Schengen border rules apply.

Preparations for the demarcation delimitation of land boundary with Ukraine have commenced. The dispute over the boundary between Russia and Ukraine through the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov remains unresolved despite a December 2003 framework agreement and on-going expert-level discussions.


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