Russia finds legal way to dig further into Arctic shelf

“Russia may be the largest country in the world but some think it is still not big enough.
They plan to get closer to the vast maritime resources in the Arctic by expanding Russia’s jurisdiction further north.
Officials say the expansion will be possible if Russia slightly changes its approach to the calculation of the territory of the continental shelf.
There are basically two approaches to shelf measurement. The first one involves the so-called “straight lines,” taking into the account coastal relief. The second one deals with “normal lines” and the furthest low tide.
When calculating the USSR’s territory, scientists used the combination of the two methods. Now Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development suggests sticking to the first approach, which will help significantly expand the country’s territory
The change will not require any changes to the international law, though the borders will actually be extended by hundreds of miles. The project is expected to be discussed by mid-2012.
For over ten years, Russia has been trying to expand its Arctic borders. The country twice filed requests to the UN, but of no avail. According to the 1982 Maritime Law, a country owning coastal territories can expand its borders by 200 nautical miles. If the country manages to prove that the sea bottom of the continental shelf is actually part of the continent (which is the case with Russia), its territory can be expanded by 350 nautical miles.
Russia’s main interest in such an expansion lies in the energy resources the shelf contains, among them oil, gas, and mineral deposits – around 100 billion tonnes in total.”
(From Russian Times where you also watch a video about this)


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