The North Pole: The World’s Next ‘Battleground’

Saturday, April 15, 2017
By Paul Martin

Russia and Denmark could carve up the North Pole after their separate claims to the world’s icy peak get a nod from the United Nations.

Russia and Denmark could partition the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range, which runs across the North Pole that splits the Arctic in two, if a UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) allows them to expand their continental shelves northward, Leopold Lobkovsky, deputy director of the Institute of Oceanic Studies in Moscow, told Radio Sputnik.

“The Lomonosov Ridge connects our continental shelf with Denmark’s, that’s why we can extend and they can extend. If our claims are approved Russia and Denmark could carve it up somewhere around the North Pole,” Lobkovsky said.

In early August 2015, Russia submitted a partially revised application to the United Nations seeking to enlarge its continental shelf limits in the Arctic Ocean. The application included Russia’s scientifically substantiated claim for expanding the shelf area in the Murmansk-North Pole-Chukotka triangle.

The updated application also refers to unsettled Russian-Danish issues of the delimitation of maritime territories. Denmark’s application dated December 2014 for the shelf north of Greenland concerns a major part of the territory Russia applies for – particularly, the polar territory and part of the Lomonosov Ridge.
In keeping with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country wishing to expand its shelf needs to prove that the underwater features adjacent to it are natural geological extensions of the country’s continental shelf.

A coastal state can always claim its rights to the shelf within the distance of 200 nautical miles from the coastline.

In an interview with Radio Sputnik, political analyst Alexei Gusev said that other countries could also demand their share of the Arctic Ocean. These countries are Canada, the US, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland.

Gusev believes, however, that the Russian and Danish claims are more preferable.

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