Moscow is trying to convince the international community that it has a greater claim to the arctic. A 1982 convention gives bordering nations the right to extend arctic claims if the government can prove its continental shelf extends beyond a 200-mile limit.
Moscow sent the nuclear-powered Rossiya to sea to join research vessel Academician Fyodorov to help assess the continental shelf.
"The Rossiya icebreaker will accompany the research ship during the entire length of the expedition to ensure the consistency of the vessel's speed, which is crucial for precise measurements," Yekaterina Ananyeva, spokeswoman for nuclear fleet company Rosatomflot, was quoted by state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.
The two-month project aims to determine the thickness of the Lomonosov Ridge. Russia is at odds with Canada over ownership of the ridge.
Melting sea ice brought on by global climate change is exposing vast areas that could hold undiscovered oil and natural gas reserves.
A U.S. Defense Department report in June said Washington has a chance to shape interests in the region as global weather patterns result in climate and social changes in the arctic.