Russia asserting its rights in Arctic to gain access to resources
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The resource race of the 21st century requires that nations seek resources from every corner of the globe to meet growing demand.169 The seas—long considered valuable sources of minerals, food, and now, energy—are no exception.170
Not surprisingly, nations are racing to stake a claim to these resources.171 Russia made a bold move in August of 2007 by planting a flag on the Arctic Seacap at the North Pole in an attempt to reinforce claims it has been making since 2001 that it owns the resources on the floor of the Arctic Ocean.172 The Arctic Seacap is an especially sought after area since it “may hold billions of gallons of oil and natural gas—up to 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered reserves”173 and is rapidly melting, making it navigable for the first time.174 Russia’s actions met immediate resistance from members of the international community, and have sparked debate over the resources the sea holds and who their lawful owner is.175 In fact, one journalist commented that “[t]he polar dive was part publicity stunt and part symbolic move to enhance [Russia’s] disputed claim to nearly half the Arctic seabed.”176
Russia, Denmark, Norway, and Canada are staking their claims to Arctic resources but the United States, which has conducted research on how far the continental shelf extends from Alaska toward the North Pole, cannot submit any of its evidence because it is not a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Russia has made no secret of their ambitious and aggressive plans for dominating the Arctic region and its resources. U.S. inattention to their advances could pose a long-term strategic threat to U.S. national security.