Russia is planning extensive research to help uphold its claim to the energy-rich Arctic Sea shelf, which the country believes is an extension of the Eurasian continent, an official says.
At a conference in Moscow Friday, Andrei Smirnov of the state-run company Atomflot said Russia is planning icebreaker missions in the Arctic over the next three years to conduct a detailed geological analysis of the seabed.
The mission will kick off with an atomic-powered icebreaker and a research ship travelling to the Arctic next summer, Smirnov said.
In February, Canada scrambled fighter jets to intercept a Russian bomber flying toward Canadian airspace. Following that, the Conservative government outlined a host of initiatives designed to beef up Canada's Arctic presence.
A dispute over the Arctic has intensified amid growing evidence that global warming is shrinking polar ice, which could open up new shipping lanes and new resource-development possibilities.
Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to contain as much as 25 per cent of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas.
All five nations have agreed to abide by international law while scientists map the Arctic seabed.
Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which Canada ratified in 2003, every country controls the resources under its coastal waters up to 200 nautical miles from its shore. Under the treaty, a country's territory can be expanded much farther if it can prove the ridges and rock formations underneath the water are connected to its continental shelf.