Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, has re-submitted its petition to the United Nations claiming exclusive control over 1.2 million square kms (463,000 square miles) of the Arctic sea shelf, based this time on what its foreign ministry calls “ample scientific data”, reports CSM and Reuters.
Rich in natural resources, the Arctic is a potential arena for the clash of geopolitical interests of the Arctic states. This is the second time Russia has staked its claim to what it sees as its territory. Earlier in 2002, the UN rejected the bid on lack of evidence.
The move comes in the midst of a five-way competition between Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States to claim land that, according a special report by The Guardian, holds what is believed to be the home of up to 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas and oil resources. The region also contains some of the world’s largest untapped valuable minerals.
Meanwhile, Sputnik says, Russia is actively developing territories in the Arctic region. Moscow is carrying out massive modernization of its northern coast and remote archipelagos, in order to effectively use the new shipping routes, which are formed due to the melting of ice, as well as to optimize oil and gas production in the region.
The Russian economy is overwhelmingly reliant on natural resources and the Arctic’s estimated huge oil and gas reserves are expected to become more accessible as climate change melts and ice and technology advances.
In February 2013 itself, Russian authorities unveiled a strategy to improve the country's military defense network in the Arctic, a program that will continue through 2020.
According to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a nation may claim an exclusive economic zone up to only 200 nautical miles from their recognized borders. Russia claims area even beyond that.
This would include the North Pole and give Russia access to an estimated 4.9 billion tonnes of hydrocarbons. (In 2007 it sent a mini-submarine to plant a titanium Russian flag at the pole.)