MOSCOW, April 18 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Natural Resources Ministry is planning to submit a claim to the UN this autumn to extend the country's Arctic shelf, Ecology Minister Sergei Donskoi said Friday.
"Our experts have been gathering evidence for the past decade. The fact that the Sea of Okhotsk was recognized as a Russian inland sea in March was a very significant breakthrough," the minister said.
"The success of the Sea of Okhotsk bid is an important precedent that will factor in the decision on Russia's next claim to extend its continental Arctic shelf," he explained.
Moscow filed its claim to a part of the Artic continental shelf including the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges in 2011, but the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf said that it needed further scientific backing.
Scientists have to prove that the underwater ridges are extensions of the Eurasian continent, thus linked to Russia's territory. The shelf, which is believed to hold some five million tons of hydrocarbon reserves, is a lucrative resource-rich zone.
Donsoki said the ministry had researched some 38,000 square kilometers of the Arctic seabed, collecting hundreds of samples with the help of unique technologies in an effort to substantiate its claim. Russian scientists will return to the shelf area on more research trips, he added.
"It is a geopolitical task," the Russian resources minister said, adding the ministry had been cooperating with other agencies to secure Russia's strategic potential as a leading Arctic power.
Last month, the UN recognized a large part of the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia's Pacific coast as part of the country's continental shelf, granting the country exclusive rights to an area of 52,000 square kilometers that also contains reserves of valuable natural resources.