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Thread: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

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    Default Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia plants flag 14,000 feet under North Pole as Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Last updated at 14:03pm on 2nd August 2007 Comments
    Russia has sent a submarine to plant a flag beneath the ice of the North Pole in an audaciouas bid to lay claim to the resource-rich Arctic.


    The submarine managed to plant a Russian rust-proof titanium flag on the seabed. 14,000 feet beneath the surface of the Arctic Ocean, according to Vladimir Strugatsky, vice president of Russia's polar exploration association.
    Russia wants to extend the territory in the Arctic it controls right up to the North Pole.


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    The Russian ship carrying the submarine moves through the Arctic 's sea ice of the



    The region is believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves.
    Under international law, the five states with territory inside the Arctic Circle - Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States and Denmark via its control of Greenland - have a 200 mile economic zone around the north of their coastline.


    But Russia is claiming a larger slice extending as far as the pole because, Moscow says, the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by one continental shelf.


    One of the aims of the expedition is to allow oceanographers to study the seabed and establish that Russia and the North Pole are part of the same shelf.


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    The submarine reaches the seadbed on its mission to plant the Russian flag



    "It was a soft landing ... There is yellowish gravel down there. No creatures of the deep are visible," expedition leader Artur Chilingarov was quoted as saying.


    Soviet and U.S. nuclear submarines have often travelled under the polar icecap, but no one has so far reached the seabed under the Pole, where depths exceed 4,000 metres.


    Expedition leaders have said their main worry is to resurface at the ice hole where they dived as the mini-submersibles are not strong enough to break through the North Pole's desolate ice cap.
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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Nations Arming for "COLD" War
    By now most people have heard of Russia’s planting of its flag beneath the North Pole, in an effort to gain control of the vast amounts of minerals, oil, and natural gas located there. This latest Russian “research expedition” was merely a stunt to bolster the Russians claims to the territory. It was only Russia’s most recent visit to the Pole, another research mission just 2 months ago actually picked up all the geological samples Russia required to confirm the treasure trove of natural resources there.
    “The Russian scientific establishment confirm that Russia already has picked the geological samples it needs from the North Pole sea bed. As a matter of fact, another research expedition, also named “Arctica-2007“ were picking geological samples in the area only two months prior to Mr. Chilingarov’s mission.

    Furthermore, Novaya Gazeta writes, the North Pole point is located outside the socalled Lomonosov structure, the sub-sea geological area which Russia claims to be part of the Siberian shelf.”
    According to this report this is all part of political maneuvering that began decades ago during the reign of the Soviet Union.
    “Russia has been quietly preparing for the opening of the northeastern strait for decades, investing in ice-resistant oil tankers, drawing up plans for ports, and even deploying a massive floating dry dock.”
    The benefit of claiming the North Pole is twofold, 1) It allows control of the natural resources, 2) It allows control of shipping, and therefore commerce through the thawing Northeast and Northwest Passages. Ships using the newly opened waterways would cut 4359 mi. off the Panama canal route, and 10,563 mi. off the Cape Horn route. The potential savings for cargo shipping would be enormous.
    “Based on a charter cost of $30,000 a day, traveling speed of 22 knots and fuel costs of $170 per tonne, the route from Rotterdam to Shanghai via the Northwest Passage would be $590,000 cheaper than through the Suez Canal if the Canadian passageway were free.”
    Additionally the nation that controls access to the passageways would be able to levy usage fees, and taxes on all ships passing through.

    This is a dangerous game of brinksmanship that Russia is playing, and the outcome has the very real possibility of ending in military conflict. Already there are reports that Canada is opening a new deep water military port in its most northern reaches to protect its sovereignty in the area, as well as beefing up its navy with 8 new Ice Breakers capable of operation there.

    The United States for its part launched an arctic mission on Aug. 6th, to study the North Pole, and plans are in the pipeline for the US to build two additional Ice Breakers to beef up its current fleet of four aging vessels. There was also news a few months ago that the US is preparing for a polar conflict.
    “Desert warfare may be today’s concern, but the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is already looking to an entirely new area of military conflict: polar warfare. That’s correct, DARPA wants technologies that could be used to ensure U.S. dominance in the polar regions.
    Wired news reports that DARPA has started a new project named “POLAR” (Technologies for Persistent Operations in High LAtitude Regions) To ensure that the equipment necessary for US operational dominance in extreme arctic temperatures will work correctly. They site a report “Naval Operations in an Ice Free Arctic” as expounding on the thinking of the US military on the subject.

    The Russian Bear, and the American Eagle may again be locked in a titanic struggle for political dominance, only this time it is not Europe that is the prize, but rather the Great White North.

    UPDATE:
    Now comes news that Russia will be engaging in military exercises over the territory it claims is part of the Lomonosov ridge, near the North Pole.
    “Russia is holding extensive war games in the Arctic this week, including cruise missile tests and a flight over the North Pole by strategic bombers.”
    “The RIA-Novosti agency quoted airforce sources as saying that four supersonic Tu-160 strategic bombers and 14 medium-range Tu-22M bombers are involved in the exercises, which will include a flyover of the 1.2-million square kilometre Arctic territories claimed by Russia.”
    The Russians also interrupted US military exercises on the US island of Guam with a 3200 mi long flight there by two bombers, forcing the US to scramble fighters.
    “Russia has opened another front in its international show of muscle by dispatching strategic bombers to the heart of American military power in the Pacific for the first time since the end of the Cold War. Two Russian Tu-95 bombers made the 3,200-mile flight to Guam, where more than 22,000 American troops are involved in exercises, a senior air force general said yesterday.

    Major-General Pavel Androsov said that when US jets were scrambled, the Russian and American pilots “exchanged smiles”. He added: “Whenever we saw US planes during our flights over the ocean, we greeted them. On Wednesday, we renewed the tradition when our young pilots flew by Guam in two planes. We exchanged smiles with our counterparts, who flew up from a US carrier and returned home”.”
    The provocations by the Russians are getting much more serious. This is not the first time they have done as much either, as recently as September 2006 the Russians flew bombers near Alaskan airspace forcing the US and Canada to scramble fighter jets. This old Russian General is having a laugh about these serious issues, and talks of reviving “old traditions”, someone needs to tell them to “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”. The United States and the West are not the enemy any longer, we have a common enemy in Islamofacism. If the Russians continue this nonsense, and distract the world from the larger picture, it will leave us mutually vulnerable to the threat of terrorism.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Also, Rick, that second photo in your first post is a fake.

    Reuters was caught using an image from Titanic the move. They blamed it on Russian TV.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia's Arctic Claim Backed By Rocks, Officials Say
    Rock samples retrieved last month from beneath the Arctic Ocean indicate that the North Pole is part of Mother Russia, the Russian government announced yesterday.

    The Russians contend that the Lomonosov Ridge, an undersea structure running across the Arctic Ocean beneath the pole, is a geological extension of the Russian region of Siberia.

    Under international law, Russia could lay claim to the potentially oil-rich seabed under the Arctic ice if it can prove that the ridge is part of the country's continental shelf.

    In a statement released yesterday, Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources said that a preliminary analysis "confirms the fact that the structure of the Lomonosov Ridge crust matches world analogs of continental crust."

    In other words, the rock is of a type found on continental shelves rather than in normal mid-ocean seabeds.

    More Rocks Needed

    Russian divers took the samples last month during a mini-sub mission that went beneath the ice and planted the Russian flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean.

    The flag planting itself did nothing to establish a claim under international law.

    Ted McDorman, a professor of law at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said that it's therefore not surprising the Russians took rock samples at the same time.

    McDorman noted that even if the Russians prove that the Lomonosov Ridge's rocks are continental in nature, it doesn't necessarily mean that the ridge is part of Russia.

    "It might be Canadian or Danish," he said. Or it might not be part of any country.

    Resolving that question will involve studying the entire length of the ridge rather than a single location, he said.

    "The U.S. view is that even if [the ridge] is continental, there's a significant detachment from the mainland," he said.

    Furthermore, some Russian scientists appear to believe that the announcement was premature.

    Boris Morgunov, an advisor to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, told Echo Moscow radio that the only way to fully verify the claim is to drill into the ridge to take core samples, according to the Norwegian-based news service Barents Observer.com.

    But many Russian officials do believe they will eventually be able to back up their assertion and begin oil exploration in the region.

    "With a high degree of likelihood, Russia will be able to increase its continental shelf by 1.2 million square kilometers [460,000 square miles] with potential hydrocarbon reserves of not less than 9,000 to 10,000 billion tonnes of conventional fuel beyond the 200-mile [322 kilometer] economic zone in the Arctic Ocean," Viktor Posyolov, an official with Russia's Agency for Management of Mineral Resources, told the Russian news agency Tass.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Hmmm... I think that means the moon is part of the United States because parts of it came from the Pacific, which has Hawaii in it. Thus, by this logic we own the moon.
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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    I like the way you think Rick!

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    I thought we owned the moon AND the artic because we can kick the crap out of the ruskies.... Did I miss where they suddenly figured out how to be tough?
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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia Accused Of Annexing The Arctic For Oil Reserves By Canada
    The battle for "ownership" of the polar oil reserves has accelerated with the disclosure that Russia has sent a fleet of nuclear-powered ice breakers into the Arctic.

    It has reinforced fears that Moscow intends to annex "unlawfully" a vast portion of the ice-covered Arctic, beneath which scientists believe up to 10 billion tons of gas and oil could be buried. Russian ambition for control of the Arctic has provoked Canada to double to $40 million (£20.5 million) funding for work to map the Arctic seabed in support its claim over the territory.

    The Russian ice breakers patrol huge areas of the frozen ocean for months on end, cutting through ice up to 8ft thick. There are thought to be eight in the region, dwarfing the British and American fleets, neither of which includes nuclear-powered ships.

    Canada also plans to open an army training centre for cold-weather fighting at Resolute Bay and a deep-water port on the northern tip of Baffin Island, both of which are close to the disputed region. The country's defence ministry intends to build a special fleet of patrol boats to guard the North West Passage.

    The crisis has raised the spectre of Russia and the West joining in a new cold war over the Arctic unless the United Nations can resolve the dispute.

    Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, told Telegraph: "Four of the five Arctic powers are Nato members, yet Nato seems ill-configured to be able to respond to the sort of activities we have seen from the Russians. We need to ensure Nato has the will and the capability to deter Russian activity that contravenes international laws or treaties."

    Jonathan Eyal, of the Royal United Services Institute, said the dispute could simmer for years. "The message from Vladimir Putin is that Russia will no longer be shackled to treaties signed by Yeltsin when he was half drunk or when Russia was on its knees," he said. "This dispute is not only about oil reserves which might or might not exist, it is about the control of sea lanes. Russia's movements could pitch it into a serious territorial dispute with the US for the first time."

    Tension in the Arctic is also being heightened by the revival of Russian Cold War-era manoeuvres. Hardly a week passes without Russian aircraft over-flying the North Pole, simulating strikes on "enemy" bases and shipping.

    The crisis erupted last year when a Russian submarine crew planted a flag on the Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,240-mile stretch of seabed that Moscow says is Russian. Derided at the time as a stunt, the move focused attention on the race for the Arctic's hidden treasures.

    No country owns the Arctic Ocean or the North Pole, but under the 1982 UN Law of the Sea Convention, each country with a coast has exploitation rights in a limited "exclusive economic zone". On ratification of the convention – and America has yet to ratify it – each country has 10 years to make claims extending its zone.

    Russia rivals Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer and is estimated to have the largest natural gas supplies. Energy earnings are funding a $189 billion (£97 billion) overhaul of its armed forces.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    And thus comes the escalation.
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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia Plans Arctic Training Exercises
    A senior Russian general said the military must train in the Arctic to uphold the country's claim to vast Arctic resources.

    Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, in charge of military training at Russia's Defense Ministry, said his department is planning military exercises there - preparations that began after several nations disputed Russia's Arctic claims.

    "Modern wars are won or lost long before they start," Shamanov told the military daily Krasnaya Zvezda in an interview published Tuesday.

    He noted that 5,000 U.S. troops were involved in the Northern Edge military exercise in Alaska last month.

    Canada and Denmark have also been involved in the race to claim the potentially vast oil and other resources of the North Pole region.

    Russia last August sent two mini-submarines to plant a Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole, staking its claim on an underwater mountain range that is believed to contain huge oil and gas reserves.

    A U.S. study suggests the area may contain as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

    After the Russian expedition, Canada vowed to increase its icebreaker fleet and build two new military facilities in the Arctic. The U.S. government also sent an icebreaker for a research expedition.

    Russian officials said preliminary results on soil core samples gathered by the expedition show that the (2,000-kilometer) 1,240-mile Lomonosov Ridge under the Arctic is part of Russia's shelf. More geological tests are planned.

    Denmark has also sent scientists to seek evidence that the underwater ridge is attached to its territory of Greenland.

    The dispute over who controls what in the Arctic has become more heated with growing evidence that global warming is shrinking polar ice, opening up new shipping lanes and resource development possibilities.

    Yet in May, representatives from Denmark, Norway, Russia, Canada and the United States met in Ilulissat, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, to reaffirm their commitment to international Arctic treaties.

    Under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, Arctic nations have 10 years after ratification to prove their claims under the largely uncharted polar ice pack. All countries with claims to the Arctic have ratified the treaty, except for the United States.

    President George W. Bush has been pushing the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    U.S. Experts Say Russia 'Is Winning The Arctic Race'
    A top U.S. Coast Guard official has told lawmakers that Russia is getting ahead of the United States in the "Arctic race" and the current U.S. administration must urgently revise its approach to Arctic exploration.

    "I'm concerned we are watching our nation's ice-breaking capabilities decline," Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday.

    "It's imperative to obtain the current validating capabilities so our polar operations can be met," he said.

    The Coast Guard chief said Russia had finally put to sea last year the largest icebreaker in its polar fleet - the 50 Years of Victory - which has been under construction since 1989 and guarantees Russia easy access to the vast natural resources in the Arctic region.

    Allen said Russia is the only other country, besides the United States, with polar ice breaking capabilities, but the Russian fleet is in far better shape, with "seven to eight" nuclear-powered polar ice breakers.

    The U.S. Coast Guard's medium- and Polar-class ice breaking fleet consists of the cutters Healy, Polar Sea and Polar Star.

    Healy, which was commissioned in 2000, is the newest of the ships and is primarily designed for scientific research in the Arctic.

    The Polar Star and Polar Sea, both commissioned in the 1970s, are due for a major overhaul and need millions of dollars in maintenance and repairs to stay operational in the future.

    Speaking at the same hearings, Mead Treadwell, chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, supported Allen's assessment of the situation.

    "In the 20th century, the advent of aircraft, missiles, and missile defense made the Arctic region a major venue for projection of power and a frontier for protecting the security of North America, Asia and Europe," he said.

    "Polar-class icebreakers are the largest and most capable of ice-going ships. Indeed, an accessible Arctic Ocean also means new or expanded routes for the U.S. military sealift to move assets from one part of the world to another. The Commission believes polar icebreakers are an essential maritime component to guarantee that this U.S. polar mobility exists," Treadwell said.

    Meanwhile, Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom will take over responsibility in August for Russia's nuclear icebreaker fleet, which currently consists of six operational nuclear icebreakers.

    Experts said Russia would need six to 10 nuclear-powered icebreakers over the next 20 years, as demand for them is expected to grow with the development of the Arctic shelf and increased traffic along the Northern Sea route.

    Rosatom has already announced that Russia will allocate 800 million rubles ($33.9 million) for the maintenance of nuclear icebreakers in 2008 and the first new-generation nuclear icebreaker will be built in Russia by 2015.

    Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge last summer - to back Russian claims to the region.

    The area is believed to contain vast oil and gas reserves and other mineral riches, likely to become accessible in future decades due to man-made global warming.

    Russia said it would submit documentary evidence to the UN of the external boundaries along the Russian Federation's territorial shelf in 2009.

    Under international law, the five Arctic Circle countries - the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia - each currently have a 322-kilometer (200-mile) economic zone in the Arctic Ocean.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia To Submit Claim To Arctic Shelf To UN By 2009
    Russia is preparing an application to the UN in order to gain the right to widen the country's territorial borders in the Arctic, a Russian lawmaker said on Tuesday.

    Artur Chilingarov, a member of the lower house of Russia's parliament and a veteran explorer, said that by 2009 Russia would submit documentary substantiation of the external boundaries of the Russian Federation's territorial shelf to the UN.

    "Taking into account the result of the 2007 expedition, we are preparing to submit an application by 2009," he said. "Everything is based on international law and obligations."

    Last August, as part of a scientific expedition, two Russian mini-subs made a symbolic eight-hour dive beneath the North Pole to bolster the country's claim that the Arctic's Lomonosov Ridge lies in the country's economic zone. A titanium Russian flag was also planted on the seabed.

    Russia's 2007 expedition irritated a number of Western countries, particularly Canada, and Peter MacKay, the Canadian foreign minister, accused Moscow of making an unsubstantiated claim to the area.

    Russia's oceanology research institute has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge last summer - to back Russian claims to the region.

    The area is believed to contain vast oil and gas reserves and other mineral riches, likely to become accessible in future decades due to man-made global warming.

    Researchers have conducted deepwater seismic probes, aerial and geophysical surveys, and seismic-acoustic probes from the Akademik Fedorov and Rossiya icebreakers.

    Russia first claimed the territory in 2001, but the UN demanded more evidence.

    Under international law, the five Arctic Circle countries - the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia - each have a 322-kilometer (200-mile) economic zone in the Arctic Ocean.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia's Putin Tours New Rig In Arctic Oil Drive
    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday toured a new Arctic oil rig intended to boost Moscow's position in the intensifying competition for northern energy reserves.

    Putin also met ministers and top oil executives in the Severodvinsk shipyard to discuss prospects for developing more Arctic fields, which are estimated to contain up to a quarter of Russia's proven oil and gas reserves.

    "The Arctic zone is a guarantee of Russia's economic power. Oil, gas, gold, diamonds and phosphates -- it's all there," Artur Chilingarov, a member of parliament who is also an Arctic explorer, told AFP before the meeting.

    "We need to find new oil fields ... We need to go offshore," he said.

    Officials said the rig, which is expected to be completed in 2010, is the first in the world able to operate in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit) and withstand the impact of pack ice.

    "Building technology to tap offshore Arctic reserves is a priority for our civilian production," read a statement from the rig's constructor, Sevmash, a secretive plant in northern Russia that also builds nuclear submarines.

    Sevmash emphasised the rig's ability to operate in "extreme conditions."

    The fragile Arctic environment and disputed boundaries between Canada, Norway and Russia make oil exploration in the region controversial. Russia says it has to drill in the Arctic as existing oil fields are drying up.

    The Arctic region is believed to contain 100 billion barrels of oil, according to US official data, and is increasingly seen by the industry as a key source to keep pace with soaring demand amid record-high oil prices.

    But environmentalists say there is currently no effective way of dealing with an oil spill in such icy conditions and warn about the impact that drilling will have on Arctic wildlife such as polar bears and whales.

    At Friday's meeting, Putin said Russia's declining oil production meant the industry was at a "critical juncture" and proposed to cut taxes and slash bureaucracy to encourage new oil development in Arctic regions.

    "The prospects are good but some tendencies worry us. The rate of growth of production has gone down ... In the first quarter of this year, production even declined 0.3 percent," Putin told the assembled ministers and oil executives.

    The new Prirazlomnaya rig was ordered by state-controlled energy giant Gazprom for its oil field of the same name in the Arctic Ocean but the project has been delayed by design and financing problems.

    Sevmash said it hoped to use the experience to build infrastructure for other planned Arctic projects such as the Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea and oil fields off the coast of the Yamal peninsula in Siberia.

    The base of the rig measures 126 by 126 metres (413 by 413 feet) and it can house up to 200 workers. Once completed, the rig will be dragged by tug boats hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the shipyard to the oil field.

    The Sevmash plant is in the town of Severodvinsk, a former prison camp and Russia's largest shipyard, located some 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) north of Moscow on the White Sea, a gateway to the Arctic Ocean.

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    Default Russian Navy Runs Test Flights in Energy-Rich Area Near North Pole

    Russian Navy Runs Test Flights in Energy-Rich Area Near North Pole

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    MOSCOW Russia's navy conducted test flights near the North Pole on Thursday, boosting its military presence in an area believed to contain vast quantities of oil and natural gas.

    Cpl. Vladimir Serga, a naval spokesman, said that Il-38 anti-submarine bombers and Tu-142 long-range strategic bombers of the Northern Fleet took part in the exercise, in which the planes' crews tested radio and weapons systems management equipment.

    Serga described the exercise as successful.

    The flights come two days after a Russian missile cruiser began patrols in the Arctic.

    The Marshal Ustinov, a nuclear-capable missile cruiser, was deployed Tuesday in the Arctic area "to provide for the safety of Russia's shipping industry," the navy said in a statement.

    Russia has been increasingly assertive in the Arctic region as global warming makes the area's oil and natural gas resources more accessible. Last year Moscow sent an expedition to plant a Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole.

    On Wednesday the U.S. Geological Survey announced that the area north of the Arctic Circle might contain some 90 billion barrels of oil and a third of the world's undiscovered natural gas.

    The survey required four years and is the most complete of the Arctic area ever undertaken.

    In May five countries with competing claims to the Arctic Russia, Denmark, Canada, Norway and the United States agreed that control of the region where the polar melt is expected will be decided in an orderly way.
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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Rick, went ahead and moved the above post of yours in here. Figured it would be a good idea to keep all the Russia/Arctic claim posts in one place.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia Unveils Aggressive Arctic Plans
    In a new national directive, Russia has asserted claims on large sections of the Arctic Ocean. The tone of the document is openly aggressive, prompting fears of increasing international tension over who has the right to exploit the mineral-rich territory.

    Cold temperatures and boredom are normally the order of the day at Russia's northernmost border post on the Arctic Ocean island of Alexandra Land. Icebergs as big as houses drift past, while old diesel drums stand silent in the dry air.

    Gone are the days when the engines of bombers carrying nuclear warheads droned over Nagurskoye military station. Nowadays, there is only one flight a month to the station, which is home to 30 soldiers, 16 scientists and six meteorologists who report to the FSB, Russia's powerful domestic intelligence service. They live in austere wooden huts, braving the indifference of the Arctic.

    In September of last year, this ghost station of the Cold War was suddenly returned to the center of geopolitical events, when two dozen government representatives were flown there, including Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. They quickly agreed that "the Arctic must become Russia's main strategic base for raw materials." Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Security Council of Russia, was quick to point out: "If we do not become active now, we will simply be forced out."

    The group of powerful men decided to have a comprehensive strategy prepared for development of the Arctic by 2020. The document will be released this week.

    Some of the content has already been leaked, revealing an uncompromising tone. "It cannot be ruled out that the battle for raw materials will be waged with military means," the explosive document reads.

    It seems that Russia, with almost one-third of its territory lying north of the Arctic Circle, is about to prove that the fears of Western nations bordering the Arctic are not unjustified. The nuclear power will soon begin flexing its muscles along the icy shores of its giant realm.

    The interest of nations bordering the Arctic is growing as polar ice recedes. One week before leaving office, outgoing US President George W. Bush unveiled a strategic plan for the Arctic region. Canada, Denmark and Norway have launched their own initiatives. Even the European Union announced a new polar policy in November.

    Meanwhile, the government-controlled newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta is preparing Russians for the notion that "the fight for the Arctic will be the initial spark for a new division of the world." Artur Chilingarov, a member of the Russia parliament and Moscow's chief ideologue when it comes to conquering the Arctic, puts it this way: "We are not prepared to give our Arctic to anyone."

    Chilingarov -- who in August 2007 used a remote-controlled submarine arm to plant a Russian flag made of titanium on the ocean floor at the North Pole at a depth of 4,261 meters (13,976 feet) -- wants to "present evidence to the United Nations within one year" that the North Pole belongs to the Russians. His threat to those in the West who disagree is simple: "If these rights are not recognized, Russia will withdraw from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea."

    Alexander Dugin, a political scientist and well-known intellectual backer of Moscow's neo-imperial claims to a Greater Russia, becomes so caught up in nationalist fervor that he loses his grasp on biological realities: "The purpose of our being lies in the expansion of our space. The shelf belongs to us. Polar bears live there, Russian polar bears. And penguins live there, Russian penguins."

    Although the Arctic may be somewhat lacking in penguins, Russia's frozen north does contain vast mineral resources. Arctic Russia is already responsible for 11 percent of the country's gross domestic product and 22 percent of its export earnings.

    The intended expansion of Russia's northern border by at least 150 miles (241 kilometers) and 1.2 million square kilometers (463,000 square miles), an area three times the size of Germany, promises to yield immense natural resource earnings.

    It was precisely these riches that Russian Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergei Donskoy discussed at the Arctic Frontiers conference in the northern Norwegian city of Tromsø, where several hundred scientists, politicians and economic experts came together last week.

    "We hope to find reserves of oil and gas corresponding to about 20 percent of Russian reserves," Donskoy said, outlining Russia's plans for the Arctic.

    Under that plan, geologists will first study the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea. They expect to find at least two to four large oil or gas fields beneath the ocean floor in each of these two seas. According to Russia's environment minister, a petroleum engineer by trade, the fields contain an estimated 3.3 billion tons of oil and up to 5 billion cubic meters of gas.

    If all goes according to plan, the first gas from the Arctic should begin flowing in 2013 or 2014, says Hervé Madeo, the deputy director of an energy consortium led by Russia's Gazprom that is developing the Shtokman field in the Barents Sea. Of the field, he says: "It is one of the largest in the world and unique in Russia."

    Despite the financial crisis, preparations for drilling are moving forward at a fast pace. The project "has too much potential" for the global economic downturn to affect it much, Madeo claims.

    The gas field could become the first major milestone in the development of the energy reserves of the north. This prompted Norwegian Rear Admiral Trond Grytting to comment sarcastically in his presentation at the Tromsø conference (entitled "From the Cold War to the Hot Arctic"): "We have lots of natural resources, military personnel and disputed borders in the Arctic. This has never been a recipe for peace."

    Grytting showed slides of his fleet commander exchanging gestures of friendship with his Russian counterpart. But he also showed the flight paths of Russian reconnaissance planes off the Norwegian coast.

    The Norwegians are worried about three unresolved territorial disputes with their eastern neighbor, and all it takes is a glance at their radar screens to witness the extent to which the former Red Army is already amplifying its presence in the Arctic Ocean. "The Russian doctrine is unmistakable," warns Grytting. "The army is supposed to advance the state's goals in the surrounding region."

    These goals openly call for expansion. As far back as 2001, Russia submitted claims to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), a panel of scientists at the United Nations that will be called upon to make decisions about expanded territorial rights in the Arctic Ocean in the coming years.

    To support its claims, Russia will have to compile evidence to prove that its own continental shelf extends beyond the 200-nautical-mile zone known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Russian request was denied the first time around, with the CLCS demanding additional geologic evidence.

    Even many of Chilingarov's fellow Russians doubt whether he will be able to fulfill his ambitious promises to have compiled all the necessary documents and samples before the end of the year. "A little bucket of sediment won't be enough," Leopold Lobkovsky of St. Petersburg's Institute of Oceanology said caustically.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia's New Arctic Force To Focus On Border Protection
    Russia will prioritize the strengthening of its border guards while creating a special Arctic force in line with a new strategy to protect its regional interests, a senior parliamentary member said Monday.

    The Russian Security Council posted on its website last Friday a document entitled "The fundamentals of Russian state policy in the Arctic up to 2020 and beyond."

    The document outlines the country's strategy in the region, including the deployment of military, border and coastal guard units "to guarantee Russia's military security in diverse military and political circumstances."

    According to the document, Russia will create by 2020 a group of forces to protect its political and economic interests in the Arctic.

    "This is not about the creation of a new strike force. The military component [of the Arctic Group of Forces] will be optimized to accomplish new tasks. The main focus will be on tasks performed by border guard units," said Adm. (Ret.) Vyatcheslav Popov, head of the Commission on Maritime Policy in the upper house of the Russian parliament and the former commander of the Northern Fleet.

    Popov stressed the necessity of building infrastructure for border guard units on Russia's Arctic coast and islands in the Arctic Ocean, as well as expanding the network of forward-based airfields in the region.

    "The military component of the Arctic force will include units from the Northern and the Pacific fleets and military districts whose northern borders lie in the Arctic," the admiral said.

    The new document also prioritizes the delineation of the Arctic shelf "with respect to Russia's national interests."

    High Arctic territories, seen as the key to huge untapped natural resources, have increasingly been at the center of mounting disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark in recent years as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.

    President Dmitry Medvedev said in September at a Russian Security Council session that the extent of the Russian continental shelf in the Arctic should be defined as soon as possible.

    Medvedev also said the Arctic shelf was a guarantee of Russia's energy security and that the Arctic should become a resource base for Russia this century, adding that "about 20% of Russia's GDP and 22% of Russian exports are produced" in the area.

    Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge in the summer of 2007 - to support its territorial claims in the region.

    Moscow pledged to submit documentary evidence to the UN on the external boundaries of Russia's territorial shelf by 2010.

    A Russian proposal on creating security structures in the Arctic region will be discussed at a ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in April.

    The Arctic Council was established in 1996 to protect the unique nature of the Arctic region. The intergovernmental forum comprises Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia To Build New-Generation Nuclear Icebreaker By 2015
    Russia is planning to complete the construction of a third-generation nuclear-powered icebreaker by 2015, the head of the state nuclear corporation Rosatom said on Tuesday.

    Responsibility for Russia's nuclear icebreaker fleet was handed over to Rosatom from the Murmansk Shipping Company on August 27, 2008.

    "A federal program has allocated 17 billion rubles [$500 mln] for the development of a new-generation icebreaker," Sergei Kiriyenko said.

    Kiriyenko said the Iceberg Design Bureau in St. Petersburg would prepare the design of the icebreaker by 2010. "This should be a double-hull icebreaker capable of moving in rivers and seas," he said.

    The Russian nuclear chief also said the ship would be most likely built at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St. Petersburg.

    Russia has been recently taking steps to revive the country's nuclear icebreaker fleet to ensure a continuing presence in the Arctic.

    High Arctic territories, seen as the key to huge untapped natural resources, have increasingly been at the center of mounting disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark in recent years as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.

    Russia is due to submit to the UN new data on the boundaries of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.

    President Dmitry Medvedev said in September at a Russian Security Council session that the Arctic shelf was a guarantee of Russia's energy security and that the Arctic should become a resource base for Russia this century, adding that "about 20% of Russia's GDP and 22% of Russian exports are produced" in the area.

    Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge in the summer of 2007 - to support its territorial claims in the region.

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    Default Re: Putin stakes claim to Arctic

    Russia To Submit New Arctic Shelf Boundary Data To UN
    Russia is to submit to the UN new data on the boundaries of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, an ambassador at large said Monday.

    "To bring to a close matters relating to the Arctic Ocean, we need to convince 21 members of the UN commission on the continental shelf that sections of the sea bed...are of a continental nature and are a continuation of the continent," said Anton Vasilyev, who is also a high-ranking official on the Arctic Council.

    High Arctic territories, seen as the key to huge untapped natural resources, have increasingly been at the center of mounting disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark in recent years as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.

    President Dmitry Medvedev said in September at a Russian Security Council session that the extent of the Russian continental shelf in the Arctic should be defined as soon as possible.

    Medvedev also said the Arctic shelf was a guarantee of Russia's energy security and that the Arctic should become a resource base for Russia this century, adding that "about 20% of Russia's GDP and 22% of Russian exports are produced" in the area.

    Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge in the summer of 2007 - to support its territorial claims in the region.

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