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Russia submits Arctic claim to UN in move to seize oil and gas rights

russia-arcticFILE – In this Thursday, Aug. 2, 2007 file made available by the Association of Russian Polar Explorers on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007, photo a titanium capsule with the Russian flag is seen seconds after it was planted by the Mir-1 mini submarine on the Arctic Ocean seabed under the North Pole during a record dive. Russia says it has submitted its bid for vast territories in the Arctic to the United Nations. The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, that Russia is claiming 1.2 million square kilometers (over 463,000 square miles) of Artic sea shelf. (AP Photo/Association of Russian Polar Explorers, file) (The Associated Press)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday that it had submitted a bid for vast Arctic territories that could contain large quantities of oil and gas to the United Nations.

The ministry said in a statement that Moscow was claiming over 463,000 square miles of Artic sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles from the shore.

The Arctic is believed to hold up to 25 percent of the planet’s untapped oil and gas supplies, and Russia, the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the territory. The competition has intensified in recent years as shrinking polar ice is opening new opportunities for exploration.

Russia was the first to submit its claim in 2002, but the U.N. sent it back for lack of evidence. It submitted a partial revision regarding the Okhotsk Sea in 2013 and the commission issued a recommendation the following year, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The ministry said that the resubmitted bid contains new arguments. “Ample scientific data collected in years of Arctic research are used to back the Russian claim,” it said.

Greenpeace responded by warning of the environmental risks.

“The melting of the Arctic ice is uncovering a new and vulnerable sea, but countries like Russia and Norway want to turn it into the next Saudi Arabia,” Greenpeace Russia Arctic campaigner Vladimir Chuprov said in a statement. “Unless we act together, this region could be dotted with oil wells and fishing fleets within our lifetimes.”

He urged countries seeking jurisdiction over the Arctic to work together to create a protected sanctuary around the North Pole.

Russia expects the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to start looking at its bid in the fall, the ministry said.



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