Russia has made no secret of its intention to claim the Arctic.
In 2001, it was the first country to make a claim to the United Nations that much of the territory being uncovered by the melting polar ice was on the Siberian continental shelf that extended north from the Russian coast and so legally belonged to them.
Canada and Denmark have belatedly made similar claims.
If Russia’s claim succeeds, they will have successfully secured about a quarter of the world’s oil and gas reserves and will control the two northern shipping routes across the Arctic, according to The Arctic Institute’s Center for Circumpolar Security Studies.
The question of Arctic ownership will be taken up by the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in 2014.
Russia already controls a large part of the gas supplies that go to Europe through pipelines. The vulnerability of that relationship became abundantly apparent once again when disputes over the price of Russian oil resulted in the spigot that usually flows through the Ukraine into much of the rest of Europe being turned off last week.
Before the end of this year, the government-owned oil company, Gazprom, plans to start drilling for oil in the Arctic and extract 140,000 tons of oil within a short time frame, according to the Stimson Center, a think-tank that proposes pragmatic solutions to global security problems.
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