Russia has submitted a formal bid to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) claiming more than 463,000 square miles of Arctic Ocean seabed, including the North Pole. Russia says that the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges under the Arctic are extensions of the country’s continental shelf. In December, Denmark claimed most of the same territory, saying the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Greenland. Norway and Canada are preparing similar claims. Russia made a symbolic stunt claiming the Pole in 2007, putting a titanium flag on the sea floor under the ice cap.
Why would anyone want the Arctic seafloor, anyway? Oil and gas. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are reserves of 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas there, 22 percent of the world’s unrecovered oil and natural gas, and with Global Warming it’s becoming more accessible.
“Russia Stakes New Claim to Expanse in the Arctic,” Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times
“Putin tries to claim the North Pole. Can he do that?” Shontee Pant, Christian Science Monitor
“Russia claims vast Arctic territory, seeks U.N. recognition,” Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
“Russia ready to talk North Pole with Denmark,” Atle Staalesen, Alaska Dispatch News
“Arctic Shipping Soars, Led by Russia and Lured by Energy,” Marianne Lavelle, National Geographic
“Canada to collect more data for continental shelf claim,” Eilís Quinn, Alaska Dispatch News
“The Thawing Arctic: Risks and Opportunities,” Jonathan Masters, Council on Foreign Relations
“Oil and Natural Gas Resources of the Arctic,” Geology.com
“US-Russia Confrontation in the Arctic and the Battle for Oil. Russia’s Territorial Claims of the Arctic Shelf,” GlobalResearch
“Why the United States Needs to Join the Law of the Sea Convention Now,” via U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps
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