Russia Has Just Claimed a Chunk of the Arctic
Including the North Pole
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 4, 2015 10:23 AM CDT
FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 file photo, the Prirazlomnaya platform is towed from Murmansk to an oilfield in the Pechora Sea, northern Russia. Russia says it has submitted its bid for vast territories...   (Andrei Pronin)
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(Newser) – Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark, and Norway all want to grab a part of the Arctic, and Russia in 2001 became the first to submit its claim to the UN—a claim that was sent back due to lack of evidence. The country now says it has that evidence, reports the AP. Russia's Foreign Ministry said it yesterday submitted to the UN a revised bid for more than 460,000 square miles of Arctic sea shelf that extends some 350 nautical miles from the shore. The ministry said that the resubmitted bid contains "ample scientific data collected in years of Arctic research." The Telegraph explains that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea "allows countries to claim an exclusive economic zone up to 200 miles from their coastline or as far as their land territory naturally extends from shore beneath the sea."

What Russia is arguing in its bid is that the undersea Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge (among others) are indeed extensions of Russia's continental shelf. The Telegraph notes that the area Russia is claiming reaches to the North Pole, which the Barents Observer reports puts it at odds with Denmark, which submitted a claim to the North Pole in December. Denmark has argued that the Lomonosov Ridge is the natural extension of the Greenland shelf (Greenland is a semi-autonomous Danish territory, hence Denmark's claim). On its website, the UN noted that Denmark's submission would be included in the provisional agenda of the 38th session of the Commission, which will run from July 20 to Sept. 4; Russia's submission will likely be considered then as well.