Russia is currently claiming an exclusive economic control over nearly half a million square miles of the Arctic, an area that includes the North Pole.
The 463,000 square miles that Russia is petitioning contains valuable deposits of oil, gas and reserves of other fossil fuels. The area also includes a potential ship route that has been slowly opening as the ice melts due to climate change.
Russia is filing the petition based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law and Sea, which establishes that each nation has an exclusive economic zone that goes from 200 nautical miles into the ocean from the nation’s recognized borders. However, if a country demonstrate that the continental shelf on which it is located extends more than 200 miles, the law recognizes a maximum of 350 miles.
Nonetheless, the Russian government is claiming much more than that under the allegation that the resources found in the Arctic Ocean are “natural components” of the territory they already control.
This is actually the second time Russia has tried to take control over the Arctic. In 2002, Vladimir Putin submitted a similar petition to the U.N. but was rejected as it failed to provide essential scientific evidence. Nevertheless, the Kremlin affirmed that this time they count with “ample scientific data” to support their case. They even sent already a submarine under the Arctic Ocean to place a titanium Russian flag at the North Pole.
Despite the efforts from Russia, the U.N. committee responsible to attend petitions like this, will not meet until 2016. Moreover, they have to establish how the territory will be divided as countries such as the U.S., Canada, and others, also make frontier with the Arctic.
Source: Discovery News