As the Arctic is melting, more and more nations are interested in the resources and geostrategic position of its ground. The latest contender is Russia which recently laid a claim to the territory seeking UN’s blessing to start drilling and militarizing the North Pole.
It is the second claim of this nature Russia made in less than two decades. In 2007, it even sent a submarine and managed to plant the Russian flag under the North Pole. But this time is not about rushing and planting flags around. Russia says that it has scientific evidence that backs its territorial claim on about 460,000 square miles of the Arctic Ocean and all that is in it.
Analysts argue that the region claimed by the Russian government is one of the world’s largest untouched reserves of crude oil, diamonds and valuable metals including gold and platinum. The region is also of great interest in case of an armed conflict with other nations touching the Arctic because it now contains a northern shipping route that is getting even wider as sea ice vanishes.
Russia bases its claims on scientific research conducted by more than 100 Russian scientists in 2007. Back then an expedition proved that 1,200-mile long undersea mountain chain dubbed Lomonosov Ridge which runs deep into the Arctic is a natural extension of Russian territory.
Russians used two submarines to reach 13,200 feet under the North pole where they placed the flag on the seabed as a symbol that the region is a Russian territory. Seven years later, the Danish performed a similar expedition and said that the ridge belongs to them through the Lincoln shelf.
But under the current U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, countries that touch the Arctic are entitled to only 200 miles off their coastlines. Nevertheless, since May 2007, Russia laid a claim that both the ridge and North Pole belongs to Russia. Paradoxically, the North Pole is already moving towards Siberia but in a veeery slow, geological way.
Russia made a claim of the Arctic in 2002, and the UN dismissed it because it lacked scientific basis. This year, Russians are trying to expand their territory under the international law that sets borders 200 miles off the coastline of a state. There is an exemption to that, however. If a nation can prove that geological structures extend farther than that, it can claim a 350-mile limit.
Yet, what Russia claims now is more than that. Kremlin argues that the natural resources in the Arctic are “natural components” of its territory, an argument backed by the “ample scientific data” it had submitted to the U.N.
Image Source: Davidicke
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