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Russia Claims Large Chunk of North Pole 242

Posted by Zonk
from the also-santa-claus dept.
kungfoofairy writes "Russia has laid claim to over one million square kilometers of the Artic. This announcement comes on the return of a scientific expedition into the region which found that the Lomonosov Ridge connects to Russia. The area is supposed to have a reserve of 10 billion tons of natural gas and oil. 'A BBC map shows Russia's proposal; this set of maps from The New York Times illustrates the area at stake and different ways it might be divided ... The Russians have tried to advance their claim before, and were turned away by the United Nations in 2001. The new geological data is evidently meant to improve the odds for a second try. '"
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Russia Claims Large Chunk of North Pole

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  • Santa (Score:2, Funny)

    In Soviet Russia Santa gets coal from you. Knowing the Russians, this claimed territory will become a polluted industrial mess.
    • Re:Santa (Score:5, Funny)

      by eln (21727) * on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:21PM (#19694331) Homepage

      Knowing the Russians, this claimed territory will become a polluted industrial mess.
      Hell, if they're not careful, they could pollute it so badly that nothing would ever grow there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tellarin (444097)
        As someone who played the original Sid Meier's Civilization for hours and hours after scoring ended or caused a nuclear war that turned the whole map into swamps (or both), I can say that the north pole can be the best site to create a city that with size one can outproduce the rest of the planet.

        Did someone else managed to do this?
    • by peragrin (659227)
      So Santa is bringing in Walmart, and firing all the elves?

    • by CODiNE (27417)
      Dang! Missed the opportunity to say "First Pole!"

      I'm sure there's been Polish Slashdotters here before you.
      • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
        I'm sure there's been Polish Slashdotters here before you.

        Ya really. Who can forget Poland.
    • by Rei (128717)
      Judging for modern history, they'll join in on a joint venture with foreign firms who provide the capital in exchange for a majority share, then catch the firms on relatively minor environmental violations (as far as oil production goes), and force them to settle by giving up their majority share to Gazprom, that paragon of environmental responsibility.
  • I might occasionally need ice for my cool drinks with all this global warming.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Sure, you can claim it. But can you fight me off when i go up and stick my flag there? I might want some ice cubes too.
      • by Rei (128717) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:15PM (#19695387) Homepage
        If only you two were serious; squabbles between petty powers can be almost amusing. For example, Tonga vs. the Republic of Minerva [cabinetmagazine.org]. A group of businessmen founded an organization with the goal of creating a libertarian paradise called the "Republic of Minerva". They spent a fortune shipping sand onto a section of the remote, submerge Minerva Reef, raised it above sea level, erected a small stone platform and a flag, and announced their independence. They issued their own currency and started working on everything it is that a country does. Sadly for the libertarian idealists, Tonga rallied every troop they could muster from their 100,000 person nation, including a band of convicts, a brass band, and Tonga's 350-pound king. They invaded and conquered the miniscule sand pile, losing one man in the process of taking the uninhabited island (I kid not; a fight broke out among two of the convicts. The Republic of Minerva had a murder rate higher than its population).

        The whole thing would have made a great YouTube video.

        Will nothing stop Tonga's unbridled military might? We must stop the Greater Tongan Co-Prosperity Sphere before it is too late!

  • by also-rr (980579) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:08PM (#19694209) Homepage
    Countries that would get most by method one:
    We like method 1!

    Countries that would get most by method two:
    No, method 2 is better!

    Repeat every 6 years until the whole thing melts and/or people realise that country borders are arbitrary and their first responsibility should be to the human race.
    • Let them have the north pole. We smart Americans know that the world's oil supply is just about to dry up anyways.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by misleb (129952)
        Yeah, but if they can sit on the oil long enough and wait for the REST of the world's oil to dry up (read: go way up in price) they can make a fortune off of it. Buy low (virtually free in this case), sell high!

        -matthew
      • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei (128717) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:53PM (#19695197) Homepage
        We're talking about an economic boon that will last decades. Of course people are going to fight over it. Any (fictional) "oil running out, world in panic" scenario would only make it all the more valuable.

        Your argument is like saying, "Well, there's a gigantic diamond buried under the fence between me and my neighbor. I'll just let them have it because diamonds are going to run out anyways."

        From a more practical standpoint, Russia is grasping at straws. They went from superpower to "not that impressive except for all the nukes." Their GDP is, what, a bit over a trillion dollars per year compared to our 11 trillion? Yet, they still have the pride of a superpower. Just like how if America fell from the top of the world stage, we'd still see ourselves as deserving that status, they too tend to see this as just a setback. Natural resource exploitation seems a good way to bring in money to their economy that could help resurrect their backwards industrial base. It also has geopolitical significance; "take my side or I shut off the taps" makes a nice threat, even when not spoken.

        Of course, the resource you're threatening over better *actually* be a big deal. Let's not forget Sudan's threat to devastate the world by stopping sales of acacia gum [go.com]. I love the terrifying wording [washingtonpost.com]:

        What's more, the good and peaceful leaders of Sudan were prepared to retaliate massively: They would cut off shipments of the emulsifier gum arabic, thereby depriving the world of cola.

        "I want you to know that the gum arabic which runs all the soft drinks all over the world, including the United States, mainly 80 percent is imported from my country," the ambassador said after raising a bottle of Coca-Cola.

        A reporter asked if Sudan was threatening to "stop the export of gum arabic and bring down the Western world."

        "I can stop that gum arabic and all of us will have lost this," Khartoum Karl warned anew, beckoning to the Coke bottle. "But I don't want to go that way."

        As diplomatic threats go, that one gets high points for creativity: Try to stop the killings in Darfur, and we'll take away your Coca-Cola.
        • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pluther (647209) <pluther.usa@net> on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:28PM (#19695491) Homepage

          As diplomatic threats go, that one gets high points for creativity: Try to stop the killings in Darfur, and we'll take away your Coca-Cola.

          It worked, didn't it?

        • by aralin (107264)
          It also has geopolitical significance; "take my side or I shut off the taps" makes a nice threat, even when not spoken.

          There is an old joke in Czech Republic (from the time when it was heavily under Russian influence in the 70'). We have just won the World Championship in ice hockey beating Russian team and when the Russian president sends in a telegram: "Congratulations to victory STOP Oil Pipeline STOP Gas Pipeline STOP"

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Repeat every 6 years until the whole thing melts and/or people realise that country borders are arbitrary and their first responsibility should be to the human race.

      Or until someone starts sending out naval ships & building military bases.

      It is cheaper to exploit the North Pole than to deal with dictators in Africa or the Middle East and one would have to be naive to think that Russia doesn't have military plans drawn up to prevent someone from staking a claim.

    • by VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:33PM (#19694461)

      Repeat every 6 years until ... people realise that ... their first responsibility should be to the human race.


      What? This won't happen until the "human race" has a common enemy. We are tribal in nature, so humans will always fight at the highest level of categorization, and those categories will only unite when they have a common thing to fight against. It's possible that natural disaster could become a common enemy, but it's more likely that we will remain infighting until we find a sentient alien race (or said alien race finds us).

      So, expect to see this fight over an ice cap go on for awhile. It won't matter in the long run, once we have to start worrying about other planets.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lord Ender (156273)
        If the marketers can convince everyone to pay $1.50 for a bottle of water, perhaps they can convince everyone to accept poverty or ignorance as a common enemy.
        • But the IPCC wants to convince us that prosperity and skepticism are common enemies....
          • But I have no idea what you mean by that statement. It sounds vaguely like a dig at the IPCC, except for the fact that it's complete nonsense. They've never made such a comment, or anything close to such a comment. Was this meant as a joke? If so, could you explain?
        • The fight against poverty and ignorance doesn't pay in cash. If someone gives social justice an advertising budget, I'm sure that the marketing folk will gladly do their thing.
      • by Plutonite (999141)
        If that happens (and it won't, aliens don't exist - we are a probabilistic anomaly in a finite universe) then religious extremism will probably lead to it being seen as Armageddon, and the others can die/go to hell for all they care. Maybe if you help the non-believers survive you will go to hell with them and be killed anyway, whilst if you die on your own you are rewarded by the cleansing of your sins. Instincts(nature) can be overridden by sufficiently strong theology/philosophy /cultural norm(nurture).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ivan256 (17499)

        What? This won't happen until the "human race" has a common enemy.


        What makes you think we'd stop fighting with each other if we had a common enemy. There are plenty of human societies right now who have a common enemy, yet still kill amongst themselves.
    • by Cyberax (705495)
      There's also a method 3: explode a few of these things - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_bomba [wikipedia.org] on the shores of offending countries.

      That way their sea border will move farther from North Pole.

      Problem solved!
    • This news has been all over the last couple of days and almost every story lays out the issue as "Russia claims Entire North Pole!!!" (or something similar), when in fact they have done no such thing.

      Ironically, the map most used to claim that "OMG! Russia wants it all!" is the one from the BBC (http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42433000/gi f/_42433630_arctic_ice_map416_3.gif [bbc.co.uk]) which shows their supposedly outrageous claim based on the sea-floor ridge argument. If one compares that to the more sedate,
      • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:19PM (#19695411) Homepage

        Ironically, the map most used to claim that "OMG! Russia wants it all!" is the one from the BBC (http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42433000/gi f/_42433630_arctic_ice_map416_3.gif) which shows their supposedly outrageous claim based on the sea-floor ridge argument. If one compares that to the more sedate, reasonable NYT analysis here: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2005/10/09/inter national/20051010_ARCTIC_GRAPHIC_2.html [nytimes.com]... they are almost the same.

        The BBC map is most used as it shows what the Russians want to claim - the NYT map shows the situation as it currently exists. (Note that the grey hued area marked "Russian claimed territory" on the BBC map is absent from the NYT map - and lies considerably beyond the borders marked on both maps.) The two maps differ considerably.
      • Also, speaking as a Canadian, there is no way that the Russians would be able to claim "all of the arctic" in any event. Canada would fight before that happened (seriously).
        Actually, you two would end up having a hockey game over it.

        Yeah, I was at a fight last night when a hockey game broke out.

        Thanks! I'll be here all week! Try the veal!
    • their first responsibility should be to the human race.

      Why's that?
    • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking.yahoo@com> on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:39PM (#19695085) Homepage Journal

      Repeat every 6 years until the whole thing melts...
      Since everyone else is picking on the second half of that sentence, I'll pick on the first half. :)
      The reason there's so much recent fighting over it is that the Arctic Ocean becomes more valuable after the "whole thing melts" and not less valuable. It will be easier to access the oil, and there are shipping rights involved.
    • by Belacgod (1103921)
      But the USA would get more by method 2, and it supports method 1. I guess we're an irredentist power only in sandy deserts.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Repeat every 6 years until the whole thing melts and/or people realise that country borders are arbitrary and their first responsibility should be to the human race.

      Anyway, in either of these cases Russia would get the largest chunk.

      And I think it'd only be fair. Especially the 1st method seems most fair to me, becuase it relies on and is proportional to the land size.
  • by Soulfader (527299) <sig@s i g s p a ce.net> on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:09PM (#19694217) Journal
    ...the url: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/06/28/whats- the-russian-for-santas-workshop/ [nytimes.com]

    Roughly, "zavod Santi."

    Glad to help.
  • by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:13PM (#19694253) Journal
    ..of another cold war.

    Thanks, I'll be here all night. Tip your waitress and try the Veal.

    • "Sounds like the start of another cold war."

      If any of you sees an APC carrying Engineers, OPEN FIRE IMMEDIATELY!
      • No worries. Got the Tesla coils online.
      • by tbo (35008)
        What if their APC gets a crate that gives it stealth?

        Seriously--I had this happen once, and it was so awesome. Stealth APC of engineers FTW!
  • Or is it Canada's? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vux984 (928602) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:14PM (#19694265)
    From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,211328 9,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront [guardian.co.uk]

    Yesterday, however, some scientists doubted whether Russia's latest Arctic grab stood up to scrutiny.

    To extend a zone, a state has to prove that the structure of the continental shelf is similar to the geological structure within its territory. Under the current UN convention on the laws of the sea, no country's shelf extends to the North Pole. Instead, the International Seabed Authority administers the area around the pole as an international area.

    "Frankly I think it's a little bit strange," Sergey Priamikov, the international co-operation director of Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg, told the Guardian. "Canada could make exactly the same claim. The Canadians could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia."

    ----
    Pwned! All your base are belong to ... Canada!!
    • by bobcat7677 (561727) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:42PM (#19694563) Homepage
      The whole thing is dumb! Why should a ridge in the sea floor 3000ft under water give anyone claim to anything above the water??? By that standard, anyone could lay arbitrary claim to anything on earth just because there was some sort of geographic similarity or geologic connection. Anyway, the other end of the ridge is connected to Canada so is the premise is valid, then Canada has just as much claim to the territory as Russia. Actually, I think a war should be fought to determine the owner...would be interesting history making to wage war in that type of environment...
      • I think a war should be fought to determine the owner...would be interesting history making to wage war in that type of environment...

        heh...Canada would lose big time to the Russians, unless the United States came to their rescue. The Canadians have chosen throughout their history to devote somewhat less to military spending than other nations, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it does mean that one cannot go around spoiling for a fight with those nations that *have* spent massively on thei
        • Yes, the one plane in the Canadian air force is not much of a threat to anyone. But lets not forget that Alaska borders this disputed area as well. I'm sure the US could find an excuse to lay claim and get the ol' war machine headed north. Denmark has already spoken up with claims being that Greenland is one of it's territories and borders the area as well (also might have a connection to the same ridge as well).
    • by puppetman (131489)
      The Arctic is a very fragile ecosystem that is already feeling the effects of toxic chemicals used elsewhere in the world [bbc.co.uk] - I'd have serious concerns that it would be safe to extract gas and oil in that sort of environment. The Russians have had other catastrophic technological [wikipedia.org] that significantly reduces my faith in their ability to do this properly.

      They also drink far too much [wn.com] to be in charge of such an important project. Which brings me to my point - as nice as the Russians may be, we already have Quebec
    • by niceone (992278) *
      That actually makes a lot of sense. I think if you took a global poll asking which country people would least object to running the whole world, Canada would come #1. I for one welcome etc.
      • You can thank Rick Moranis for that one. Any movie based on acquiring beer is sure to win the worlds love and respect.
  • Hooray. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:17PM (#19694291)
    Russia is trying to expand the size of its energy hammer. It's nice to see that Putin is trying to bring back the good old times of the Cold War, MAD and Europe as ground zero for Russia's battle for world supremacy.
    • "Good old times" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Soulfader (527299) <sig@s i g s p a ce.net> on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:38PM (#19694523) Journal
      You are probably more right than you know [wordpress.com]. The first step is to convince people that things weren't really that bad.
      • ... that's exactly what I'm referring to. Putin and his Russian nationalists might be no more than 2 bit thugs, but they are 2-bit thugs with huge energy reserves, a chip on their shoulder and the knowledge that energy makes the world go 'round. Throw in the fact that the EU is currently comprised of stubborn members with wildly diverging goals, and the whole thing has the potential to spiral downwards very quickly.
        • Putin and his Russian nationalists might be no more than 2 bit thugs, but they are 2-bit thugs with huge energy reserves, a chip on their shoulder and the knowledge that energy makes the world go 'round.

          That makes them at least 4 bit thugs, maybe even dollar thugs...

    • by jcuervo (715139)

      It's nice to see that Putin is trying to bring back the good old times of the Cold War, MAD and Europe as ground zero for Russia's battle for world supremacy.
      Anyone else read that and immediately think of MAD Magazine?
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Russia is trying to expand the size of its energy hammer. It's nice to see that Putin is trying to bring back the good old times of the Cold War, MAD and Europe as ground zero for Russia's battle for world supremacy.

      Oh, come on... Any country that big and that close to the north pole would do the same. And yes, for economy reasons. Do you have a problem with that? Switch the country position with USA and GWB would do the same. Talk about being biased. :-p
      • Not only would every country near the north pole do the same, they ARE doing the same thing - it's right there in the listed article. Personally, I'm not worried about Denmark becoming a major supplier of gas and oil. I'm pretty sure though that Russia has no problems cutting off oil to exert political pressure [csmonitor.com]. As for modding my comment as flamebait - read some international news, buddy. That stuff is essentially straight from Putin's mouth.
  • by The0retical (307064) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:18PM (#19694301)
    Can the US claim Quebec and Nova Scotia since the Appalachian mountains run into them?
    • by y2imm (700704) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:23PM (#19694357)
      "Can the US claim Quebec..."

      Would you? Please! We'll explain it all later, promise :-)

      Yours truly,
      English Canada
    • by davidsyes (765062)
      Well, by those analogies, China will be able to say the US is a renegade/rogue province. After all, nevermind Lief Erickson et al. THEY didn't survey the continent, let alone and meaningful chucnks of the world, to the extent China did in the 1400's. Heck for that matter, NO OTHER COUNTRIES performed China's non-aggressive feats.

      For Russia to win such a claim might, as pointed out, cause a resurgence in some kind of New Cold War. But, I suppose since Canada never seems to make such a claim, the stomp-Canada
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:23PM (#19694361)

    And here I thought the North Pole was a single infinitely small point.

  • At least the Russians have the balls to go there and get the oil and gas out. To hell with the baby seals and polar bears.
  • and then hold them accountable for preventing it from melting

    if they can do that, they can keep it

    i'm dead serious

    and in my mind, i grant them wide latitude in what they can do to prevent it from melting

    leadership and power is not static, something delivered form simple provenance. leadership and power is based on your ability to solve problems. it doesn't matter who solves global warming, but whomever does, goes the spoils of mankind's gratitude and fealty

    but apparently, more people are interested in blame
    • and then hold them accountable for preventing it from melting

      But if it's ice, it's a lot harder to get at the oil than if it's melted and has a moderate climate.
    • Alaska is bigger than Hawaii. Canada is bigger than Mexico. With a bit of warming, we get more room! We can grow corn in the Northwest Territories and tropical fruit in New England. Greenland will be green land. The Northwest Passage opens up for shipping, allowing easy ship transport from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific.

      Good deal, hmmm?

      We need to research the best greenhouse gasses so we can really turn up the thermostat.

  • I've just figured out how to start WWIII in my next novel.
  • by pipingguy (566974) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:34PM (#19694473) Homepage
    The Canadian Navy [satirewire.com] might have something to say about that, eh?
  • by geekoid (135745)
    Europe connects to Russia as well, and so does China, are they claiming those land masses as well?
  • Hmmm... If those guys from PirateBay or Sealand were smart, they'd pick a spot right near smack in the middle of the North Pole & buy it from Russia... ... with such centralized location with potential pipes going to Canada, US, Russia, Norway (North America, Asia, Europe), they'd have their redundancy fully covered!

    On top of that just think of all the money they'd save on server cooling! hehe

    Adeptus
  • They call their equivalent Ded Moroz, which literally means Grandfather Frost. And Ded Moroz does not "live on the North Pole". He "lives" in Veliky Ustiug.

    See here: http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%94%D0%B5%D0%B4_%D 0%9C%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B7 [wikipedia.org]
  • by athloi (1075845) on Friday June 29, 2007 @05:51PM (#19694653) Homepage Journal
    First the North Pole, then Canada, then Michigan and finally all of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Can't you see they've come to take our precious bodily fluids?
  • can develop technology to extract the oil from the rumored/claimed Siberian oil/ice, then Russia will probably eclipse even Saudi. Maybe Communism will see a "renassaince" or some resurgence? Maybe Russia will be able to pay its citizens some $70,000 or $100,000 a year? Maybe Russia will show the US a thing or two about extracting oil out of California's coast and out of Colorado and Alaska?
  • so does iceland own everything above the midatlantic ridge?
  • by rewt66 (738525) on Friday June 29, 2007 @06:04PM (#19694789)
    You and whose army?

    Oh... that army...

  • It will set a handy precedent. Eventually the earth will hit another ice age, and as the ocean water recedes, we will lay claim to all of Russia, on account of it being connected to the US via the land bridge in the Bering Strait. It's genius, I tell you.
  • At least the Russians try to make it valid, the US says they can sail through Canadian waters in the Arctic just because they can.

    • The US says they can sail through Canadian waters in the Arctic just because they can.
      which is really how things have always been. Countries are the top of the power heirachy so they can do anything that other countries don't stop them from doing.

      afaict canada is far more dependent on the US than the US is on canda and they certainly have more military power so canada isn't likely to do anything about something like this.
      • by megaditto (982598)
        Out of all G7 countries, Canada is the only one whose ecomony is now growing at over 3%. And that's in spite of the fact that the high oil prices affect them much more than the US (it's colder up there, and they need that oil for heating as well as manufacturing and driving).

        I strongly suspect that Canada will become one of the greatest ecomonic powers sometime this century (and the US will decline; remember Asimov's Foundation? you can smell the decay of the great empire around here)
    • by rayvd (155635) on Friday June 29, 2007 @10:07PM (#19696409) Homepage Journal
      Why do people mod things up just because they're anti-US?

      Most [canada.com] of the world's major maritime powers agree with the US position that this is an international strait. If anything, it's Canada here that is acting unilaterally.

      Although the OP is correct; the Canadians who depend on the US for their defense do not have the means to defend their claim even if they wanted to. That's reality for you I guess.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by suffe (72090)

        Although the OP is correct; the Canadians who depend on the US for their defense do not have the means to defend their claim even if they wanted to. That's reality for you I guess.
        The defense from what?!
  • Artic? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ichijo (607641) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:06PM (#19695305) Homepage Journal

    Russia has laid claim to over one million square kilometers of the Artic.

    I say we file our claim for the Arctic before they get a chance to correct their misspelling.

  • by wikinerd (809585) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:33PM (#19695547) Journal
    While the Arctic is getting warmer thanks to our carbon economy, we are going to see more claims like that in the future as the area becomes more approachable. In the end, a war could take place just because a previously cold inaccessible area melted and revealed new resources (note that most of the Arctic is already controlled by either NATO or Russia). Perhaps, apart from the economic uses, Kremlin and the oligarchs want to install platforms with missiles nearer the North Pole, just to be prepared for the coming global warming wars. While homo economicus fscks up this solar system's only habitable planet, governments get ready for the next nuclear war. How uplifting...

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