Look Out, Santa: Russia Claims North Pole

Rich oil and gas reserves lie beneath ownership dispute
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2007 12:09 PM CDT
Russian legislator Artur Chilingarov, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, seen during a welcome ceremony at the residence of South African President in Cape Town, in this Tuesday, Sept....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Russian ships will arrive at the North Pole today as part of Moscow's effort to claim a 1,240-mile area of the Arctic—and with it, more than $2 trillion in oil and gas reserves. The Telegraph reports that the fleet will deposit a Russian flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean in a symbolic assertion of underwater ownership.

Global climate change and discoveries of submerged natural resources have elevated disputes over Arctic sovereignty, with the US, Canada, and Denmark all eager to stake claims. Vladimir Putin has been particularly aggressive in his Arctic pursuits; the Russian president made a speech this year aboard a nuclear-powered ice-breaking vessel.