Russia boosts research to back Arctic claims
The Kremlin's point man for the Arctic says Russia is boosting its research efforts to support its claims for parts of the Arctic continental shelf.
Artur Chilingarov said Monday he will head an expedition next month to launch a drifting research station in the Arctic to gather scientific data to support Russia's claim of Arctic territories, believed to contain up to a quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas.
Russia, Canada and Denmark are planning to file claims to the United Nations to prove their respective rights to the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range.
Chilingarov, a polar scientist, led a 2007 expedition during which a Russian mini-submarine dropped a canister containing the Russian flag onto the seabed at the North Pole.
Arctic nations have become increasingly anxious to stake their claims to the polar territories as mounting evidence shows that global warming is shrinking polar ice, turning the previously inaccessible area into a potentially rich energy source.
An Arctic strategy paper signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 said the polar region must become Russia's "top strategic resource base" by 2020.
Russia first submitted its claim in 2001 to the UN, but it was sent back for lack of evidence.
On Monday, Chilingarov said Russia would speed up collection of scientific data and submit it to the United Nations in 2013, matching the claim by Canada expected for that year.
Russia's special envoy in the Arctic Council, Anton Vasilyev, described the extension of Russia's territories in the Arctic as "feasible."