Rus­sia bids for vast Arc­tic ter­ri­to­ries at United Na­tions


Rus­sia has sub­mit­ted a re­vised bid for vast ter­ri­to­ries in the Arc­tic to the United Na­tions, the For­eign Min­istry said Tues­day.

The min­istry said in a state­ment that Rus­sia is claim­ing 1.2 mil­lion square kilo­me­ters (over 463,000 square miles) of Ar­tic sea shelf ex­tend­ing more than 350 nau­ti­cal miles (about 650 kilo­me­ters) from the shore.

Rus­sia, the U.S., Canada, Den­mark and Nor­way have all been try­ing to as­sert ju­ris­dic­tion over parts of the Arc­tic, which is be­lieved to hold up to a quar­ter of the planet’s undis­cov­ered oil and gas. Ri­valry for Arc­tic re­sources has in­ten­si­fied as shrink­ing po­lar ice is open­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­plo­ration.

Rus­sia was the first to sub­mit its claim in 2002, but the U.N. sent it back for lack of ev­i­dence. It sub­mit­ted a par­tial re­vi­sion re­gard­ing the Okhotsk Sea in 2013 and the com­mis­sion is­sued a rec­om­men­da­tion the fol­low­ing year, U. N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The min­istry said that the re­sub­mit­ted bid con­tains new ar­gu­ments. “Am­ple sci­en­tific data col­lected in years of Arc­tic re­search are used to back the Rus­sian claim,” it said.

Green­peace re­sponded by warn­ing of the en­vi­ron­men­tal risks.

“The melt­ing of the Arc­tic ice is un­cov­er­ing a new and vul­ner­a­ble sea, but coun­tries like Rus­sia and Nor­way want to turn it into the next Saudi Ara­bia,” Green­peace Rus­sia Arc­tic cam­paigner Vladimir Chuprov said in a state­ment. “Un­less we act to­gether, this re­gion could be dot­ted with oil wells and fish­ing fleets within our life­times.”

He urged coun­tries seek­ing ju­ris­dic­tion over the Arc­tic to work to­gether to cre­ate a pro­tected sanc­tu­ary around the North Pole.

Rus­sia ex­pects the U.N. Com­mis­sion on the Lim­its of the Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf to start look­ing at its bid in the fall, the min­istry said.

Haq, the U.N. spokesman, said there is no ple­nary meet­ing of the com­mis­sion this fall so the re­vised Rus­sian sub­mis­sion will be in­cluded in the pro­vi­sional agenda for its meet­ing in Fe­bru­ary or March. In ac­cor­dance with the com­mis­sion’s rules, he said Rus­sia’s latest sub­mis­sion is be­ing cir­cu­lated to all 193 U.N. mem­ber states, in­clud­ing all charts and co­or­di­nates.

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