The Great Seabed Grab
Soil Samples 'Prove' Arctic is Russian
Soil samples taken from the Arctic seabed show that it belongs to Russia, Moscow is claiming. The announcement is the latest tactic in the international scramble for the Arctic's huge energy and mineral resources.
In the latest development in the international scramble for control of the Arctic, Russia has claimed that soil samples taken from the seabed show that the Arctic is Russian.
"We have received preliminary data from an analysis of models of the earth's crust from Arctic 2007 which confirms that the
Lomonosov Ridge ... is part of the adjoining continental shelf of the Russian Federation," the Russian Natural Resources Ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The statement added that Russia was currently "preparing rock samples and materials to document and present to the United Nations commission on ownership of the continental shelf." The soil samples were taken by scientists on the Arctic 2007 expedition, which symbolically claimed the Arctic for Russia in August by
planting a flag on the seabed under the North Pole.
Russia argues that the Lomonosov Ridge, which runs along the bottom of the Arctic seabed below the North Pole, is an extension of its own continental shelf. If recognized, its claim -- which it is planning to resubmit to the United Nations in 2009 -- would bring 1.2 million square kilometers of seabed under Russian control.
Current laws grant countries an economic zone of 200 nautical miles beyond their land borders, but the zone can be extended if a country can prove a geological relationship between its own territory and the land beyond. The North Pole is currently administered by the International Seabed Authority and is not recognized as the province of any country.
The five nations which control a coastline in the Arctic -- Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark -- are greedily eyeing the North Pole in the expectation that global warming will soon melt the polar ice cap, freeing the way for the exploitation of the seabed below. Geologists believe the Arctic is rich in minerals and energy deposits.