02:48 GMT04 June 2020
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    Russia's revised Arctic shelf expansion claim submitted to the UN in full compliance with the existing procedure has sparked hysteria among those uneducated on the issue, including some US Republicans.

    After all, they could not miss an opportunity to lambast Barack Obama for his non-assertive strategy in the resource-rich region.

    "Right now, the Russians are playing chess in the Arctic and our administration still seems to think it's tic-tac-toe," Senator Dan Sullivan said commenting on Moscow's reworked bid filed under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

    Sullivan is yet another advocate of an absurd theory that Russia plans to illegally grab land in the Arctic. It follows then that the US has to be increasingly present in the region to protect it from Moscow's ambitions. From this point of view, Washington's Arctic policy could well be interpreted as "a strategic blunder."

    However, Sullivan's comments (unlike Moscow's bid) have no legal basis. One can only wonder how a senator from America's only Arctic state could not be familiar with the issue.

    No single country owns the North Pole and the surrounding region of the Arctic Ocean but five coastal nations, comprising Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark and the US, have exclusive rights to marine resources up to 200 nautical miles offshore.

    A helicopter view of NS 50 Let Pobedy nuclear-powered icebreaker sailing toward the North Pole
    © Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich
    All territorial claims in the Arctic are settled through the UNCLOS mechanism, under which the coastal countries are allowed to expand their claims if enough proof is provided. The US is the only Arctic nation which has not ratified the convention and, therefore, is not eligible to file an official claim.

    Having gathered ample scientific data, Russia re-submitted its revised bid to the United Nations on August 4, 2015. In this bid, Russia is claiming 1.2 million square kilometers (over 463,000 square miles) of Artic sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles from the shore.

    The UN is expected to make its decision in early 2016. Meanwhile, a Twitter user living in Alaska offered Sullivan a sage piece of advice: "The Cold War is over Dan. Don't go backward. Form a positive relationship with Russia. Beats the hell outa killing people."


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    geopolitics, Arctic shelf, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Dan Sullivan, Arctic, United States, Russia
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