Russia’s latest claim to the North Pole this week has been viewed as everything from an attention-grabbing stunt to an attempt to secure potentially valuable subsea resources. Experts said it can, at any rate, take at least 15 years to sort out.
Russia’s claim on the area is nothing new, the Norwegian government and several Russian scholars noted. The country also grabbed attention eight years ago, nearly to the date, when it planted a Russian flag on the seafloor under the North Pole.
“If their claims (that Russia’s continental shelf extends to the North Pole) aren’t changed or better documented than the last time, this is more a PR-stunt than any hope of getting the claim legally recognized,” Håvard Bækken of the University of Oslo told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). He added that Russia has “internal ambitions to sell Russia as a superpower” and sees the North Pole as a matter of prestige.
While Russia’s claim directly challenges a similar claim by Denmark, it has no direct consequences for Norway, since Norway already has won sovereignty over large areas of the Arctic. Norway’s foreign ministry said Russia’s renewed claim had been expected as being “in line with the system for presenting claims” as established by the UN.