Russia To Submit Arctic Claims by Year's End
Published: January 24, 2013 (Issue # 1743)
Polar bears approaching the decommissioned USS Honolulu submarine 500 kilometers from the north pole.
MOSCOW ľ Theáfederal government will submit its final Arctic territorial claims with theáUnited Nations byáthe end ofáthe year, theácountry's leading Arctic scientist said.
Artur Chilingarov, theáveteran explorer who led theáexpedition toáplant aáRussian flag onáthe seabed atáthe North Pole iná2007, told Rossia 24 television that Russia's claim toáa portion ofáthe Arctic shelf would be filed with theáUnited Nations Commission onáthe Law ofáthe Sea byáDecember.
"I think we are seriously prepared," he said. "We have gathered all theánecessary information needed toámake aájust decision, including theáexperience ofáother countries."
Chilingarov led aáseries ofáexpeditions over theápast few years seeking toáprove that theáundersea Lomonosov Ridge is anáextension ofáRussia's continental shelf.
If approved, theáclaim based onáthis research would see Russia gain anáadditional 1.2 million square kilometers ofáexclusive economic zone, Interfax reported.
Chilingarov's announcement came theásame day theágovernment published aánew long-term strategy foráArctic development.
TheáState Program foráthe Arctic, which defines government policy foráat least theánext eight years, was published onáthe Regional Development Ministry's website Wednesday. Expert opinions onáthe draft are being accepted until Jan. 29.
Theálaw would establish aámandatory review ofáany business activities that could pose anáenvironmental hazard, starting fromáa "presumption ofáenvironmental danger ofáany proposed activity," RIA-Novosti reported.
Ináother provisions, theálaw would bar theáprivatization ofáany airlines ináthe region andáallow certain regions toábe closed toáaircraft foráenvironmental reasons. It would also ban off-road travel ináthe tundra.
While theádocument does make note ofáthe need toádefend theáregion, it does not directly mention rumored plans toáclose areas like theáYamal Peninsula toánonresidents.
Theástrategy also suggests that Russian domination ofáthe Arctic Sea Route be written intoáa law, with aástipulation that atáleast 70 percent ofáships operating ináthe region should be Russian.
It does, however, talk about allocating state financing foráthe "development andáimplementation ofáprograms toáattract foreign investment toáthe Arctic zone."
Theánew strategy, which will define state policy foráthe region foráPresident Vladimir Putin's current presidential term andábeyond, was published shortly after theáUnited Nations Environment Program unveiled plans foráa $300 million, five-year environmental undertaking ináthe area. á
UNEP Moscow chief Vladimir Moshkalo said theáRussian government had asked his agency toáoversee development ofáthe program, which will be co-funded byáagencies including theáEconomic Development Ministry, theáEnvironment andáNatural Resources Ministry, theáWorld Bank andáthe European Bank foráReconstruction andáDevelopment.