Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway and the United States are squaring off over 1.2 million square kilometers (460,000 square miles) of Arctic seabed, thought to hold 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Experts estimate the ridge has ten billion tons of gas and oil deposits and significant sources of diamonds, gold, tin, manganese, nickel, lead and platinum.
Putin disagrees. Russian scientists have returned from a six-week mission on a nuclear ice-breaker to claim that the 1,220-mile long underwater Lomonosov Ridge is geologically linked to the Siberian continental platform - and similar in structure.
On August 2, we found a hole in the ice on the top of our planet. The air temperature was zero and the water was -1 Celsius. During the dive we saw a variety of fish, small squid, shrimp and medusas. Finally, we reached the bottom. The depth in the Arctic Ocean at this point in the North Pole is 4,300 meters. For the first time in the history of human civilization man visited the real pole of the North. Earlier, people visited the geographical point of the North Pole, but only on the icy surface. We planted the titanium Russian flag, along with our message to future generations, on the bottom of the North Pole. (Moscow News)
The Daily Mail quotes a British diplomatic source as saying that "Putin wants a strong Russia, and Western dependence on it for oil and gas supplies is a key part of his strategy. He no longer cares if it upsets the West." UK's Green groups are warning that the Kremlin claim could devastate one of the world's last unspoilt areas, and the Director of Greenpeace UK, said: "We think nations should stop searching for new sources of fossil fuel and focus instead on the alternatives - renewables, energy efficiency and decentralised energy systems.And the concerns aren't baseless.
Russia has greatly expanded its naval and aerial military activities near the Norwegian border. Over the past five months Norway's air force had to launch fighter jets on 18 occasions to identify Russian long-range bombers that flew dangerously close to Norwegian airspace. (TerraDaily)
The Russian claim of the North Pole has alarmed the Pole's neighboring states. Denmark
Danish scientists are to head to the Arctic on Sunday seeking evidence to position Denmark in the race to claim the potentially vast oil and other resources of the North Pole region. The month long Danish expedition will seek evidence that the Lomonosov Ridge, a 2000km underwater mountain range, is attached to the Danish territory of Greenland, making it a geological extension of the Arctic island. That might allow the Nordic nation to stake a claim under a UN treaty that could stretch all the way the North Pole, although Canada and Russia also claim the ridge.( Al Jazeera )
Canada In addition to building its first Arctic deep-sea port to bolster its disputed claims to the famed Northwest Passage and Arctic seabed, Canada is building a new Canadian Forces winter fighting school in Resolute Bay in the Northwest Passage.
Last month, Harper announced plans to build six to eight ice-breaking patrol ships at a cost of $7.1bn. Canada currently has one large ice-breaker and five light-to-medium ice-breakers, "too few for the size of our Arctic," according to Robert Huebert, an Arctic geopolitical expert at Calgary University. As well,he said. "The first principle of Arctic sovereignty is use it or lose it," said Harper, indicating the new facilities "tell the world that Canada has a real, growing, long-term presence in the Arctic." (Al Jazeera)
At a time when Russia, Canada, Norway and other Arctic nations are scrambling to stake out turf in the still-frozen north, the United States' two most powerful icebreakers sit at a dock in Seattle, nearing the end of their working lives. One is manned by a skeleton crew. Both are about 30 years old, and nothing is on the drawing board to replace them. (Seattle Times )
Norway In nearby Norway, they truly have George W. Bush's number. Officials are afraid that they have to single-handedly defend against the Russians in case of a serious conflict.
Because the West is tied up in its anti-terror missions in the Middle East, Norway cannot rely on assistance from NATO if Russia attacks, believes Sverre Diesen, the country's top military official, according to a confidential defense report quoted by Norwegian TV station NRK. (TerraDaily)