Russia Conquers the North Pole


Could this be the basis for a new Cold War? (Thanks, I'll be here all week, remember to tip your waitress….)

From the International Herald Tribune:

A Russian expedition traveled Thursday in a pair of submersibles more than four kilometers under the ice cap and deposited a Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole, making a symbolic claim to vast fields of oil and natural gas believed to be beneath the sea north of the Arctic Circle.

Inside the first of the minisubmarines to reach the sea floor were two members of Russia's lower house of Parliament, one of whom, Artur Chilingarov, had led the expedition to seek evidence reinforcing Russia's claim over the largely uncharted domain.

That claim, which has no current legal standing, rests on a Russian assertion that the seabed under the pole, called the Lomonosov Ridge, is an extension of Russia's continental shelf, and thus is Russian territory.

Russia submitted its claim in 2001 to an international commission, which has thus far ruled that the available data is not sufficient to support it. But Russia has pressed on.

The day's events underscored both Russia's restored sense of confidence and the international competition for access, influence and extraction rights in the far north, which has intensified as oil and gas prices have surged and as trends in global warming have encouraged speculation that the region could become more navigable and accessible.

Five countries—Canada, Denmark, Norway Russia and the United States—have territory in the Arctic Circle and under international convention have rights to economic zones within 320 kilometers, or 200 miles, of their borders.

Cathy Young wondered last month here at reason why Bush isn't tougher on Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin.

UPDATE: And our own Jesse Walker last week blogged this exact same story! Life is long, memory sometimes too short, and I was away from my computer that day…..

NEXT: The Ganja Man Can Become a G-Man

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  1. First we lose out tequila. Now our ice. It’s clearly an international war on margaritas.

  2. Good luck with that.

  3. … is an extension of Russia’s continental shelf, and thus is Russian territory.

    Does this sound arbitrary to anyone else? I’m not a geologist — or whatever type of scientist studies these things — but this sounds like a terribly stupid rationale. Don’t we share a continental shelf with Mexico and Canada? Guess we own hockey and soccer now!

  4. x,y,

    If I recall correctly a nation has the right to regulate fishing up to two hundred miles off its land bordering the sea and that has been the case the the 1960s (?). These two standards may be related in some fashion.

  5. You’d better not shout
    You’d better not cry
    You’d better not pout
    I’m telling you why:
    Santa Claus is going to be poisoned with a radioactive isotope.

  6. Russia is clearly making a play for all of those vital resources at the North Pole.

  7. Russia would do better to focus less on the North Pole and more on developing a first world economy.

  8. ChrisO,

    If I recall correctly there is a bunch of unrecovered natural gas underneath the icecap. It sits on the ocean surface in nodules of some variety.

  9. What American companies stand to help Putin bring some valuable natural resources to the surface?

  10. Are they talking about geographic north (90 deg N. latitude) or magnetic north?

    ‘Cuz magnetic north moves all over the place and I think is solidly in Canada, so I could see how the Hosers might be miffed.

  11. Word of the day – Nodules.

  12. Well, as long as we don’t have Ice Station Zebra moment I’m cool with it.

  13. And if they find an alien spaceship buried in the ice they should probably leave that alone.

  14. de stijl,

    Also, they should not enter any temples or other buildings that are inexplicable in nature.

  15. I think this was said in last week’s episode of this post, but if they get the North Pole, we get the Moon.

  16. Maybe the Russians are just forward thinking … trying to get in on all the oil under the ice caps … which, if you get your news from Al Gore, are due to melt any day now.

  17. “Maybe the Russians are just forward thinking … trying to get in on all the oil under the ice caps … which, if you get your news from Al Gore, are due to melt any day now.”
    I saw Gore’s movie and while he said the caps were melting (you know, like the vast left wing cabal that just happen to have Phds in that area and publish peer reviewed articles) I don’t remember him implying they are “due to melt any day now.”

  18. Eddie Izzard has something to say about this

  19. In related news, the US lanches a probe to the North Pole of Mars.

  20. First we lose out tequila. Now our ice. It’s clearly an international war on margaritas.

    We already lost our shaker of salt. 🙁

  21. I see that we are there are disputes over Arctic territory between the US, Denmark and Canada, as well as Russia.

    So when it comes down to a fight, who do we side with? The Danes or the Canucks?

  22. I am from Russia, Moscow. I think, if we get the North Pole, you dont get the Moon. You never get the Moon, because we have atom bombs… You must know… And you will get the Moon if we want. Good Luck, americans stupid.

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