Santa Claus and Vladimir Putin have something in common: They both live in Russia. If the UN says so, anyway.
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.
Another nation with interests in the Arctic is ineligible to file a UN claim, since it’s not a signatory of the Convention on the Law of the Sea: The United States of America.