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Russian expedition aims to claim arctic

MURMANSK, Russia, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- An icebreaker is heading for the North Pole to stake Russia's claim to the arctic, a polar explorer said Sunday.

Explorer Artur Chilingarov told RIA-Novosti President Dmitry Medvedev rescued the expedition with essential funding after scientists appealed to him when its fate was in doubt.

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The nuclear-powered Rossiya set out from Murmansk Saturday on a 25-day journey to the pole. The icebreaker will deliver the SP-38 polar station with 15 explorers to a drifting ice floe for a yearlong stay. The ship's lease costs 2.4 million rubles a day.

The expedition is meant to provide "scientific substantiation" for Russia's claim to arctic territories, rich in undersea oil and gas, said Chilingarov. He led a Russian expedition that planted a flag on a contested portion of the arctic seafloor in 2007.

"It is not easy to prove that the arctic shelf belongs to Russia," he said. "An attempt was made but only science can prove that it does."

The Rossiya is carrying equipment that can "see through" sediment and rock and will be delivered to the polar station "to help substantiate our claims to the Arctic Ocean and the Lomonosov Ridge," Chilingarov said.

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