An official statement from the Russian government said that its claim to "the outer borders of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean is based on the scientific understanding that the central Arctic underwater ridges, among them the Lomonosov, Medeleev, Alfa and Chukotskoye Heights, as well as the in between basins of Podvodnikov and Chukotskaya, have a continental character”.
With the move, Moscow will now ask the UN Commission on the Limits and the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to deterime the boundaries of the contintental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.
Denmark’s submission to the CLCS, made on behalf of Greenland, was the first attempt to claim outright ownership of the North Pole. Russia’s claim, which would expand its territory by 1.2 million squre kilometres if approved, is in direct conflict with Denmark’s.
“It is ironic that the only country that right now could be said to be acting provocatively in the Arctic is Denmark. That is out of character with the country’s tradition of constructive diplomacy,” Canadian professor Michael Byers told Politiken.
Byers added that Denmark’s aggresive push could be a bargaining ploy to get the Russians to agree to a mutually beneficial deal.
Denmark’s claim to the Arctic seabed was the result of 12 years of planning and, according to Politiken, 330 million kroner ($55.2 million) spent on research.
States are entitled to claim the continental shelf extending to 200 nautical miles from their coast. According to the Foreign Ministry, the new area north of Greenland is the fifth claim Denmark has made for a continental shelf that extends behind the 200 nautical mile mark. The first submission was made in April 2009, with subsequent claims coming in December 2010, June 2012 and November 2013.
The Danish government expects its claim to be processed by 2027. The map below shows the area claimed by Denmark (click for larger view).
Russia first made an official submission of its claims in 2001 but was told by the CLCS that additional research was needed.
Canada has also said it will try to extend its territorial claims in the Arctic to include the North Pole, although it hasn't yet fully mapped its claim.
According to Barents Observor, the area included in Russia’s new claim includes nearly 600 oil fields, more than 150 gas fields and major deposits of both gold and nickel.