Russia renews claims to arctic waters

Sept. 23, 2010 at 3:47 PM

MOSCOW, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Russia says it is renewing its claims to control of vast areas of the arctic, said to be rich in reserves of untapped oil and natural gas, officials said.

Russia has long sought to establish rights to arctic waters off the county's northern coats, conducting a much-publicized expedition to plant the Russian flag on the sea floor in August 2007, CNN reported Thursday.

At an international forum held in Moscow Wednesday, it aimed to "present the world community with a picture of the region's future as it is seen by the Russian experts," Sergei Shoigu, the president of the Russian Geographical Society who is also the country's emergencies minister, said.

A report by the U.S. Geological Survey in July 2010 estimated the amount of "undiscovered, technically recoverable" oil north of the Arctic Circle was more than double the amount that had been previously found in the arctic.

Along with having the largest land mass in the arctic, Russians account for half of the arctic's population, the Russian Geographical Society said.

"Russia is distinct from other arctic nations in that a large share of its population actually lives in the arctic region," Russian Presidential Adviser for Climate Alexander Bedritsky told the Arctic Forum.

Seven other countries have land in arctic territory: Canada, Denmark (Greenland), the United States (Alaska), Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, CNN said.

Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, the eight countries have jurisdiction over waters extending 12 nautical miles from their shore, and their exclusive economic zones stretch up to 200 nautical miles into the Arctic Ocean.

Russia and several other countries are seeking to extend their jurisdiction by gathering scientific data to support cases for consideration by the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

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