Russia is aggressively pursuing Arctic claims
Until such a solution is found, the Arctic countries are likely to unilaterally grab as much territory as possible and exert sovereign control over opening sea-lanes wherever they can. In this legal no man's land, Arctic states are pursuing their narrowly defined national interests by laying down sonar nets and arming icebreakers to guard their claims. Russia has led the charge with its flag-planting antics this past summer. Moscow has been arguing that a submarine elevation called the Lomonosov Ridge is a natural extension of the Eurasian landmass and that therefore approximately half of the Arctic Ocean is its rightful inheritance. The UN commission that is reviewing the claim sent Russia back to gather additional geological proof, leading Artur Chilingarov, a celebrated Soviet-era explorer and now a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to declare, "The Arctic is ours and we should manifest our presence" while leading a mission to the North Pole last summer.
Tension between Russia and other Arctic nations will remain high as they continue to compete for Arctic territory. Maintaining UNCLOS as a viable legal framework for settling Arctic territorial claims should help avert potential confrontations between Russia and other UNCLOS members.