HOW THEY SEE US
The Russians lay claim to the North Pole!
T HE NEW COLD WAR JUST GOT COLDER,
SAID ALEXANDER GABUYEV IN RUSSIA’S KOMMERSANT. THE ONGOING “CONFRONTATION” BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE WEST NOW HAS “AN ARCTIC FRONT” AT THE NORTH POLE.
The Americans may have been the first to plant their flag on the moon. But Russia has now planted our own flag---—one specially made out of rust-resistant titanium ---—on the ocean floor of the North Pole, 14,000 feet down.
The flag may be symbolic, bu t the stakes are quite real. The purpose of the Russian expedition was to gather soil samples to prove that the resource-rich Arctic floor is part of Russia’s continental shelf. If that’s the case, under international law Russia would have sovereignty over the area—and the right to develop the oil and gas there.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the area contains 25 percent of the world’s undeveloped oil and gas reserves. No wonder the U.S. has responded to Russia’s expedition “with extreme disapproval.”
Now the Americans are rushing to the pole with their own team of scientists and surveyors, said Yelena Shishkunova in Russia’s Izvestia. Given the immense potential wealth buried under the Arctic waters, “It’s no surprise” that the U.S. has also decided to stake a claim. “What is surprising is that it has woken up so late.”
The procedure for claiming sovereignty over an area of seabed was laid out in the U.N.’s 1982 Law of the Sea Convention—which the U.S. never bothered to ratify. Russia ratified it in 1997 and put in its first claim to the Arctic four years later.
Now it is submitting an update with further scientific proof that the Arctic floor is Russian territory. We have the edge. The other countries that border the Arctic------ not just the U.S., but also Canada, Norway, and Denmark---—will have to scramble to catch up. “It’s time for Canada to kick some serious ice,” said Wade Hemsworth in Canada’s Hamilton Spectator.
The Arctic has always been considered part of Canada, celebrated in our national anthem as the True North. Why are we just sitting by “as foreign powers mark our territory like so many dogs?”
The Canadian government plans to spend more than $7 billion on a fleet of Arctic patrol ships and a deep-water port to service them. That’s a start, but it’s not enough. If we work with the U.S., we can file mutually supportive claims that secure Canadian and American rights to the Arctic.
For the sake of the environment, Russia must be stopped, said Rod Liddle in Britain’s Sunday Times. Russia has turned its existing territory into a biohazard. Acid rain sheets down, blighting Siberia. “Stick a pin in a map of Russia and you are likely to alight upon a poisoned river or the rusting hulk of a nuclear submarine, an irradiated steppe, some chemically defoliated birch trees, or a gently glowing peasant with a life expectancy of 34 years.”
The Russians have managed to destroy the Aral Sea, which is now mostly toxic desert. They turned Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest freshwater lake, “into a borscht of cadmium and mercury deposits.” Any of the other Arctic countries would be a better steward for the top of the world.
THE WEEK Magazine
August 17, 2007 (pg. 16)
Volume 7 . Issue 323.
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