ITURUP ISLAND (Sputnik) — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday that he had signed a document establishing the Russian border on Russia's continental shelf in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Earlier in the day, Medvedev arrived on the disputed Kuril Islands in the Sea of Okhotsk with a working visit.
"I wish to inform you that I have signed a decree that establishes the Russian border on the continental shelf off the Sea of Okhotsk. What does it mean? It means that we can deal with our shelf and, by the way, [it has] huge sources of raw materials, huge sources of energy," Medvedev said at the Russian Youth Forum on the Kuril island of Iturup.
He underscored that the document had been adopted after consultations of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), as well as agreed with Russia's neighbors, including Japan.
"As a result, our offshore area has increased by more than 50,000 square kilometers. It is great," Medvedev said.
A maritime territory in the Sea of Okhotsk, which also borders Japan, was recognized as part of Russia's continental shelf some three decades ago, but was formally outside Russian jurisdiction because it was not covered by the 200-nautical-mile zone internationally recognized as area of exclusive economic interest.
The territory reportedly holds immense natural resources, while a certain part of it has been poorly explored so far.
"With regard to,<…> economic conditions, of course, they should be modern and reasonably concessional, preferential. Indeed, we have designed territories of advanced development <…> Just yesterday I signed five documents on the establishment of new territories: two territories in the Amur region, a territory in the Primorye Territory, one in Chukotka [Autonomous Region] and one in Yakutsk, " Medvedev said at the forum.
The prime minister said that he had discussed the establishment of the advanced development territories in the Kuril Islands of Iturup and Kunashir.
The Kuril Islands, or the Southern Kurils, located in the Sea of Okhotsk have long been subject to a dispute between Russia and Japan as the sides failed to sign a permanent peace treaty following the end of World War II.
The four islands — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai — have been administered by Russia since the end of WWII, but the Japanese government still lays claim to them.