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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.
    Photo: wikipedia.org

MOSCOW Thefederal government will submit its final Arctic territorial claims with theUnited Nations bythe end ofthe year, thecountry's leading Arctic scientist said.

Artur Chilingarov, theveteran explorer who led theexpedition toplant aRussian flag onthe seabed atthe North Pole in2007, told Rossia 24 television that Russia's claim toa portion ofthe Arctic shelf would be filed with theUnited Nations Commission onthe Law ofthe Sea byDecember.

"I think we are seriously prepared," he said. "We have gathered all thenecessary information needed tomake ajust decision, including theexperience ofother countries."

Chilingarov led aseries ofexpeditions over thepast few years seeking toprove that theundersea Lomonosov Ridge is anextension ofRussia's continental shelf.

If approved, theclaim based onthis research would see Russia gain anadditional 1.2 million square kilometers ofexclusive economic zone, Interfax reported.

Chilingarov's announcement came thesame day thegovernment published anew long-term strategy forArctic development.

TheState Program forthe Arctic, which defines government policy forat least thenext eight years, was published onthe Regional Development Ministry's website Wednesday. Expert opinions onthe draft are being accepted until Jan. 29.

Thelaw would establish amandatory review ofany business activities that could pose anenvironmental hazard, starting froma "presumption ofenvironmental danger ofany proposed activity," RIA-Novosti reported.

Inother provisions, thelaw would bar theprivatization ofany airlines inthe region andallow certain regions tobe closed toaircraft forenvironmental reasons. It would also ban off-road travel inthe tundra.

While thedocument does make note ofthe need todefend theregion, it does not directly mention rumored plans toclose areas like theYamal Peninsula tononresidents.

Thestrategy also suggests that Russian domination ofthe Arctic Sea Route be written intoa law, with astipulation that atleast 70 percent ofships operating inthe region should be Russian.

It does, however, talk about allocating state financing forthe "development andimplementation ofprograms toattract foreign investment tothe Arctic zone."

Thenew strategy, which will define state policy forthe region forPresident Vladimir Putin's current presidential term andbeyond, was published shortly after theUnited Nations Environment Program unveiled plans fora $300 million, five-year environmental undertaking inthe area.

UNEP Moscow chief Vladimir Moshkalo said theRussian government had asked his agency tooversee development ofthe program, which will be co-funded byagencies including theEconomic Development Ministry, theEnvironment andNatural Resources Ministry, theWorld Bank andthe European Bank forReconstruction andDevelopment.





 

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