Thursday, August 2, 2007

As North Pole Melts, Russia Claims Oil

According to an article in the (Canadian) National Post, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay called Russia's rush to claim the ocean floor beneath the North Pole by planting a titanium-encased flag an empty gesture.
Two Russian submarines successfully plunged to the Arctic Ocean floor at the North Pole early Thursday, planting the nation's flag to mark the spot, and while expedition leaders hailed the exercise as a historic achievement, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay dismissed it as "just a show" of Russian bravado.
In Charlottetown for the federal Conservative caucus meeting this week, Mr. MacKay said the diving expedition and flag-planting are "no threat to Canadian sovereignty."
Mr. MacKay, in a televised interview just hours after the Russian announcement, said: "This isn't the 15th century. You can't go around the world and just plant flags and say, We're claiming this territory.'
"There is no threat to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic ... we're not at all concerned about this mission -- basically it's just a show by Russia," he told CTV.

A Russian NTV channel TV grab shows a front view of the Mir-1mini-submarine with Russian state flag prior to diving into the water of the Arctic Ocean, 02 August 2007. Members of Russia's parliament in a mini-submarine planted their country's flag four kilometres (2.5 miles) below the North Pole at the climax of a mission to back up Russian claims to the region's mineral riches.

But the dive is widely seen as a symbol of Russia's determination to claim ownership on an Ontario-sized swath of the Arctic Ocean sea floor -- and control potentially vast reserves of oil and gas on Canada's northern doorstep.
Expert observers in this country have said the relative ease with which the Russians can reach the North Pole and carry out such a descent is a clear indication of just how far behind Canada is in its capacity to assert its own claims in the Arctic Ocean.
Russia's flag-planting mission follows the claim made by a team of its scientists last month that the Lomonosov Ridge -- an underwater mountain chain that runs across the Arctic Ocean between Russia and Canada -- is geologically linked to Russia, giving it ownership of a vast, resource-rich area of the polar seafloor under a UN convention governing undersea territorial claims.
Though the Russian findings are far from proven, one expert, Mr. Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law at the University of British Columbia, says Canada needs to identify possible underwater extensions to its own landmass before a 2013 deadline under the UN accord.
"Getting the work done on time will likely involve chartering a heavy icebreaker from Russia or Finland," Mr. Byers told CanWest News Service earlier this week. "So be it. The stakes involved more than justify the cost."
The Russian mini-submarines descended more than four kilometres underwater to reach the ocean floor and left behind a titanium capsule containing the Russian flag.

Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 22 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at

No comments: