Russia Claims Arctic Undersea Territory

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has repeated Russia's claims to the Arctic continental shelf, thought to be rich in oil and gas reserves, officials said.

Rising temperatures have meant a reduction in sea ice, making hydrocarbon deposits under the Arctic Ocean more accessible, RIA Novosti reported Monday.

The Arctic lands have been the subject of dispute among the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark, the news agency said. Each of the five Arctic Circle countries has a 200-mile exclusive economic zone in the Arctic Ocean under international law. But if a country can show its continental shelf extends beyond the 200-mile limit, it can claim rights to more of the ocean floor, RIA Novosti said.

Russia has sent two expeditions to the Arctic to support its territorial claims in the region.

"There has been much ado around the Arctic region. You know how the (Russian) flag was erected (on the seabed) and how negatively our neighbors reacted to this," Putin told members of the Russian Geographic Society. "Nobody has ever stopped them from erecting their own flags. Let them do it. But we work under the rules established by the United Nations and in line with international maritime laws."

Copyright United Press International 2010.

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