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Russia deletes draft proposal to change Baltic Sea border


By Guy Faulconbridge and Stine Jacobsen

MOSCOW/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -A Russian defence ministry proposal to revise Russia’s maritime border in the eastern Baltic Sea was deleted on Wednesday from an official portal after creating confusion and concern among NATO members such as Finland, Sweden, Lithuania and Estonia.

In its official submission, the defence ministry said that a Soviet measurement of the border from 1985 had used mid-20th century nautical charts, and so did not fully correspond to more modern cartographical coordinates.

But that proposal was deleted on Wednesday from the official portal where it had been posted.

A message said simply: “The draft is deleted.”

It gave no explanation. The defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

It was not immediately clear from the original draft decree exactly how the border might be adjusted and whether or not there had been any consultation with other states adjoining the Baltic Sea.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told the TT news agency: “Russia can’t unilaterally decide on new borders.”

Finnish President Alexander Stubb said Russia had not been in touch, adding: “Finland acts as always: calmly and based on facts.”

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called the proposal an “obvious escalation” against the U.S.-led NATO military alliance and the European Union. He said it “must be met with an appropriately firm response”.

Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said: “At first glance, it seems to be an absurd notion.”

In an emailed comment to Reuters, he added: “It cannot be ruled out that the report is an attempt to sow confusion.”

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow, Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen and Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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