Geography
Sergei Donskoi
© RIA Novosti. Valeriy Melnikov

Russia submits claim to UN on Arctic shelf section

Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi presented a revised application on the continental Arctic shelf extension at the 40th session of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf at the UN headquarters, RIA Novosti reports.

Russia submitted a similar application back in 2001, but it was declined for lack of information. "The new application is for the same area, but features an update in light of new evidence that proves Russia's claim is correct," Donskoi said.

Russia claims areas beyond the 200-mile exclusive economic zone that cover the shelf of the Russian Arctic marginal seas, part of the Eurasian Basin (the Nansen, Amundsen basins and the Gakkel Ridge), and the Central Amerasian Basin, which includes the Makarov Basin and the Central Arctic Submarine Elevations. Research has shown that the main parts of the Central Amerasian Basin are of continental origin and belong to submarine elevations that are natural components of the continental margin.

Presenting the application, Mr. Donskoi mentioned nine geological and geophysics expeditions carried out from 2002 through 2014, which included the use of nuclear icebreakers and submarines, bathymetrical studies and integrated seismic research and geological probing on the main structures of the Amerasian and the Eurasian basins. The data proves the continental origin of the Lomonosov Ridge, the Mendeleyev-Alpha Rise, the Chukchi Plateau, and the fact that they are extensions of the shallow-water Eurasian shelf.

Russian is not the only country to lay claim to a part of the Arctic shelf. Both Russia and Denmark have contested parts of the Amundsen Basin, Lomonosov Ridge, Makarov and Podvodnikov basins, and the Mendeleyev Rise. A part of the Makarov Basin and the Mendeleyev Rise is contested by both Russia and Canada.

For reasons outlined above, Denmark's application significantly overlaps with Russia's, in particular around the Lomonosov Ridge. Last year the country made a submission, which is expected to be considered at the current session.

Speaking at the session, Mr. Donskoi mentioned consultations that Russia had with Denmark and Canada. He stressed that the parties had reached an understanding concerning the consideration of applications. The Minister added that the commission had received three verbal notes from Canada, Denmark and the US. "None contained an objection to the partially revised Russian application being considered by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf," Mr. Donskoi said.