Russia files revised bid for arctic territory

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Aug. 4 announced they have submitted a revised bid claiming over 350 nautical miles of Arctic sea shelf to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). The country’s previous bids in 2001 were rejected for lack of evidence. Under Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (PDF), Russia now argues it has a right to extend its control up to 350 nautical miles. Canada, Norway, Denmark and the US are also attempting to claim territories in the Arctic. The sea shelf is believed to hold a large amount of oil and gas which Russia estimates could be worth up to $30 trillion.

In response to Russia’s bid, Greenpeace International expressed concern over environmental risks of drilling in the Arctic and urged nations with territorial claims to protect the Arctic. In March 2014 Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the Arctic 30, a group of Greenpeace activists who spent two months in a Russian jail following a peaceful protest against Arctic drilling. Russian authorities dropped criminal charges against the Arctic 30 in December 2013. Earlier that year the activists were charged with piracy following their staged protest. Russia’s treatment of the activists drew criticism from a number of rights groups.

From Jurist, Aug. 5. Used with permission.

  1. Great Game for Arctic makes Newsweek

    Newsweek contributing editor Bob Reiss warned last month: "In the Race to Control the Arctic, the US Lags Behind." He sees an ice-breaker gap (the US has two; Russia has 27), and protests that the US has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and therefore can't make claims to Arctic sea-floor such as that now being made by Moscow. He even invokes the term "Great Game," although he attributes it to Kipling (who actually picked it up from Lord Curzon). To his credit, he also mentions the Inupiat and their opposition to Obama's opening of the Chukchi Sea to Shell Oil. At least the people who live in the Arctic get a little recognition…