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Sunday, 26 July 2020 21:05

Modern geopolitical confrontations in the Arctic region

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Eight countries have their own borders, continental shelves, and exclusive economic zones in the Arctic: Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland. The interest of States in these territories is due to the fact that their subsoil contains 83 billion tons of conventional fuel, of which about 80% is accounted for by the Barents and Kara seas, and the probability of developing new deposits is extremely high. Today, there are constant disputes over the Arctic territories.

August 2015, the Russian Federation submits an edited application to the UN for the extension of the continental shelf in the Arctic ocean. This application contains plans of the Russian Federation to join the Lomonosov ridge, the Submariners ' basin, the Mendeleev rise, the southern tip of the Gakkel ridge and the North pole zone. Joining these territories will allow Russia to increase its hydrocarbon reserves by 5 billion tons of conventional fuel.

However, there is a provision according to which, under international law, the North pole and the adjacent region of the Arctic ocean do not belong to any country.

In parallel with the Russian Federation, applications for expanding territorial possessions in the Arctic were received from several other countries.

For example, 3 states immediately claim the Lomonosov ridge:

  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Russia

Denmark considers the Lomonosov Ridge to be an extension of Greenland, and Canada as the beginning of the American continent.

In 2001, Russia submitted a General application for recognition of the continental shelf as a Russian territory. It concerned both the sea of Okhotsk and the Arctic part. In 2004, it was decided to divide these applications.

In 2014, the UN Commission on the limits of the continental shelf approved Russia's application to include an enclave of 52 thousand square kilometers located in the middle part of the sea of Okhotsk as part of its continental shelf. For another application, the Commission members invited Russia to provide additional information and in February 2015, the Russian delegation submitted an updated application for the Arctic to the Commission.

However, there is still uncertainty about the ownership of the Lomonosov underwater ridge, which was claimed by three States at once: Russia, Canada, and Denmark. The issue of ownership of Hansa Island, which is claimed by both Denmark and Canada, has not yet been resolved.

In 2010, Russia and Norway signed an agreement on the delimitation of the Barents sea. As a result, Russia had to cede part of the water area.

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