Advantage Russia

WHEN Russian explorers dived deep into the North Pole in a submersible and planted its national flag on the seabed, it was, without doubt, making a symbolic claim to the energy riches of the Arctic. But, there’s more to the symbolism than meets the eye.

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Published: Fri 3 Aug 2007, 9:36 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:51 AM

Put in the overall context, it signals the beginning of another era of a ‘Cold War’ of a different kind, in which stakes might be higher for Russians, and, in due course, a crafty Vladimir Putin might show the courage to take on the superpower.

Putin should at least be granted the credit to first sense the possibility of turning an adversity into an advantage. When everybody was crying over the perils of global warming, it was he who worked quietly and patiently to explore the possibilities arising out of the melting of the ice in the North Pole, and to use it as the first opportunity to unlock the Arctic’s treasures. So, as milder temperatures made exploration of the Arctic seafloor possible for the first time, it’s Moscow that’s effectively staking claim to over 460,000 square miles of the North Pole’s international territory, an area that apparently possesses a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves.

Russia has done its homework. It now claims to have collected evidence to show that the Lomonosov Ridge is actually an extension of Russia’s own Siberian continental shelf-- a half-baked claim made six years ago. Clearly, the US was caught napping; as is evident also from its failure, among other things, to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention, something the Congress kept in cold storage for the past few years. It could still claim a North Pole territory adjacent to Alaska because of geographical proximity.

The two terms of the Bush presidency were mired in America’s misguided engagement with Iraq. In the newly-emerged unipolar world, the Bush administration was supposed to work for the greater common good. These were the times to unitedly explore mankind’s dreams on Earth, in the outer space and the deep. For now, it's definitely advantage Russia.

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