June 29, 2007

Top Of The World, Ma!

Vladimir Putin has spent the last few years attempting to expand his influence throughout Eastern Europe and central Asia, mostly by threats and economic extortion. He has accused the US of acting as an imperialist power while he tries to knit the old Russian empire together in almost every direction on the compass. Now, we can say every direction, as Putin has made a bold bid for the North Pole:

Russian President Vladimir Putin is making an astonishing bid to grab a vast chunk of the Arctic - so he can tap its vast potential oil, gas and mineral wealth.

His scientists claim an underwater ridge near the North Pole is really part of Russia's continental shelf.

One newspaper printed a map of the "new addition", a triangle five times the size of Britain with twice as much oil as Saudi Arabia.

Currently, the nations bordering on the Arctic have a 200-mile region each closest to their territory. Canada, Greenland, the US, and Russia control the outer rim of the Arctic while the center has been considered an international reserve. The basis for this UN-sponsored agreement has been the fact that the Arctic has no connection to any of the continental plates, and therefore belongs to no nation established on them.

The Russians now claim that they have discovered a ridge from Asia to the Arctic. If true, it would undermine the geological basis for the agreement, although certainly not the political basis. On the strength of this unconfirmed claim, Putin says almost half of the Arctic belongs to him -- including the mineral rights. He plans on exploiting the Arctic in a manner that makes the ANWR request look like a child digging holes on a beach in the summer, as well as claiming a significant strategic edge at the top of the world.

It's not surprising that Putin would make such a naked grab for land, oil, and gas, The question will be whether the US and Canada will do anything to stop him. It may sound esoteric, but this is just one more step in Putin's slow offensive against the West, attempting to return Russia to the status of a Great Power. Controlling the top of the world will provide material and emotional support for that status if he succeeds.


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Comments (21)

Posted by LeaningRt | June 29, 2007 9:30 AM

Ed, are you familiar with Robert Greene, writer of The 48 Laws of Power and The 33 Strategies of War? He now has a website http://www.powerseductionandwar.com/, where he discusses different topics about manipulation and strategy ranging for accumulating power to seducing women.

He seems to treat Russia as a petri dish for modern day Machiavellian strategy. He also seems to be a bit of an apologist for Putin. At any rate, he recently did a book tour in Russian and his observations are actually very interesting. If you have time, may be a good read.

Posted by gobigred | June 29, 2007 9:59 AM

As if all the vast land in Russia and Siberia are not enough for this guy...unbelievable.

Posted by lexhamfox | June 29, 2007 10:13 AM

Ed, It's really quite dangerous to quote the Daily Mail. Yes, reading the Brit press is lots of fun but you have to take many of the stories with a pinch of salt. The claim is suspect, even in Russia. I have read a number of Russian cartographers who dispute the claim. You indicate that this is an official claim... it is not. No official representations have been made at all and the scientific team is just one of many in Russia and they have no official brief or connection to Putin.

But since you raise the topic, which is important, I am curious what you think about the Law of the Sea Treaty that the US refuses to ratify. How do you feel about Danish and Canadian claims and UN Conventions on this?

Posted by Duke DeLand | June 29, 2007 10:15 AM

Putin, ever the master at "taking an advantage" when he sees it....and he has BIG eyes....is using the current paralysis of our government with a President whose approval ratings are only beaten toward the ground by the plummeting levels of approval (actually lack-thereof) of our Congress to advance several causes.

Bush's Presidency, after spending any remaining political capitol on his failed immigration attempt, is dead in the water.

We, as a country, are in deep doo-doo for the next year and 4 months!

Posted by Bruce English | June 29, 2007 10:21 AM

Don't expect Canada to do much.

In recent years; part of the far northern reaches of our county was claimed by military from either Norway, or Finland (can't remember which). How did Canada respond? A batch of soldiers on Skidoos (!) were sent to reclaim our land!!! To top it off, half of the snow mobiles broke down. It would be funny if it wasn't real.

On second thought, we should send our Sea King fleet to hover over the region Russia is claiming. These helicopters have a bad history of losing parts while air borne. No one wants to have a Sea King overhead.

Posted by SpecialEd | June 29, 2007 10:27 AM

At least if the Russians own it there is chance the resources will be developed. If it belonged to the US we'd have to keep it pristine.

Posted by chsw | June 29, 2007 10:46 AM

More serious than the Russian claim to the mineral resources is its ability, with some of its new submarines, to position subs in the Arctic Ocean and fire missiles at the USA while remaining submerged. The existing treaty - which was executed by the now defunct USSR - restricted the USA from doing that to the USSR. Russia agreed to pick up treaty obligations from the USSR. Putin's statement is an abrogation of such agreements.


Posted by Tom | June 29, 2007 10:54 AM

Interesting basis for the claim, that there is not a connection of the Artic to the continental plates, ergo UN-sponsored partition. How bizarre a logic is that? And when in the dim dawn of geo-technology was this agreed to? Perhaps there are more undersea ridges than just Vlad's.

Posted by NahnCee | June 29, 2007 10:55 AM

Does Russia have either the technology or the expertise to extract oil from beneath the ocean or in a polar cap? If he claimed the moon, wouldn't we just nod and murmur comfortingly, "right, Vladimir -- anything you say." And then turn away to hide our snicker of disbelief.

Posted by lexhamfox | June 29, 2007 10:58 AM

Chsw, The real interesting news was the successful test this week of the Russian SLBM which was finally successful after two earlier tests failed. What treaty prevents patrols or stationing under the ice cap?

Posted by chsw | June 29, 2007 11:04 AM

lexhamfox - read the skipper's article and find the reference to the agreement.


Posted by RBMN | June 29, 2007 11:17 AM

Re: lexhamfox at June 29, 2007 10:13 AM


As long as the US would probably end up as the sheriff, responsible for enforcing new rules agreed on by this new international bureaucracy controlling the oceans, why should the US just give away our own unilateral authority, and just be left with the thankless part of the task? As the lone superpower, we end up with most of the responsibility and none of the authority. It's a bad deal for us.

Posted by Gary B | June 29, 2007 11:50 AM

Exploiating oil, natural gas and other mineral deposits in the Artic. Sounds great! What's Russia going to do with these natural resources, hoard them or sell them? It needs markets to sell to, not cities smashed with nuclear weapons.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 29, 2007 12:04 PM

Up at Drudge, is a headline, that Putin's "advance team," up in Kennebunkport, tried to pass a counterfeit $100 bill in a liquor store. When the clerk identifed the fake with a pen mark; the man grabbed his bill, and his four russian cronies. And, fled the store.

To russians, we're just targets.

Bush is just a nincompoop. Some way to "unite" Americans, I must tell ya. As we all wait for him to finally leave office.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Fred Thompson, appearing on InstaPundit, on an Internet link ... Pointed out that congress is NOT trusted. And, they can no longer do bills they don't read. And, that are very complicated. FIRST, the need to earn back trust.

Amazing, what the swimmer took down with him when he took others on his merry ride, around the senate floor.

The current leadership in both parties are detrimental to the electibility of those who actually got in. Will there be revolts? And, if so? What will they look like.

Gotta tell ya, Fred Thompson has a way with language. He's simple. And, he's HONEST. This is gonna blow a tremendous amount of bet money circling round the drain.

I particularly like that Thompson is approach this on a "shoe string." With words that deal with the issues STRAIGHT. The race, ahead, to replace the current boob in the White House, will only get better.

Bush? He's wasting his time playing with putin and blair. Too bad he has no interest in real people; just the fraudsters. With their palace credentials.

Posted by SkyWatch | June 29, 2007 12:34 PM

Does this not mean that the US also belongs to the USSR ? Alaska has that little point that goes of the end of it. People think the Ruskies walked over to the new land when it was frozen over.

Posted by Heather | June 29, 2007 12:55 PM

It has been seen in the last while that Putin
has plans, big plans and as usual, no one
seems to see this.

He has taken down the rich and powerful
in Russia, the television and radio stations,
to be be used for his propaganda to
brainwash the soviet citizens.

They do not know how to handle democracy and do not understand they
could have stopped his takeovers.

But, that is not true, is it? They have no real
idea about stopping the thugs who will arrest
or kill their family for speaking out. We have
no idea about their situation. We do know it
is dangerous for the west.

What am I saying? Oops, the liberals
are trying to do the same with talk
radio. They have failed miserably but will
continue to try to get rid of Rush and the others, with radio in the hands of the libs,
they will have all of the media.... that is
what the fairness doctrine is all about,
they want the conservatives to not be heard
in any way,

The takeover is the same, but for a different
group and thank heaven it was voted down.

Posted by Philip | June 29, 2007 1:14 PM

Russians. They'll try anything but real democracy.

Posted by Lew | June 29, 2007 2:02 PM

Right on, Cap'n! Every story I ever read about Russia and Putin always says some version of the same thing; Russia is all about empire! Its past and its present and its future, as far as the eye can see, is all about empire.

Empire and a small-minded petty peasant kind of negative culture that sees misfortune in anyone else's prosperity.

I've always wondered how anyone succeeds with an outlook like that.

Posted by exDemo | June 29, 2007 4:09 PM


The USA never ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty. Good. I'm not sure it ratified a similar proposed Law of the Moon treaty, though.

Recently, scientists have discovered that the Moon contains massive amounts of an isotope of Helium, 2He3, in its surface dust, that can be used in a fusion reactor, that could be built today. Small examples have been built and tested but are curiosities since there is essentially no He3 on Earth.

It produces a) no radioactivity at all, and b) can be converted to electricity directly.without the need for steam generators turbines or generators.

A single shuttle bay load of this helium about 15 tons could power the entire USA for a year and there is enough there for tens of thousands of years. The potential value of a single cargo is at least %500 billion dollars, enough to fund an Anew Apollo program every week forever.

This could end the energy problem.

China and Russia have already announced they are designing expeditions to go get some of this He3 by the year 2020, NASA has a lukewarm project tot revisit the Moon in that time frame.

Who owns the He3 ??? The miners? The UN?? Nobody? Who can legitimately scoop up the lunar dust to get it?

Posted by lexhamfox | June 29, 2007 5:16 PM

Law of the Sea is an important customary (?) body of law. Make fun of it all you like, but the fact remains that is the only body of law you have recourse to in disputes like this. Thje alternative is something akin to a free for all. This applies to commercial disputes many times. It will be a huge issue as the technology makes shallow and deep sea mining and resource exploitation more attractive.

Posted by dan | July 3, 2007 11:49 AM

Russia's oil boom is an interesting issue. It is not surprising that the U.S. is one of many countries that will be interested in the production of oil in the Russian province. Here is a list i found of the companies involved, as well as some other info...