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Russia is making an audacious grab for the vast energy riches of the Arctic with an underwater mission to plant its flag beneath the North Pole.
A team of explorers plans to descend 4,300 metres (1,400ft) to the seabed in a miniature submarine tomorrow to stake Russia’s claim to an area of ocean the size of Western Europe. The polar expedition aims to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater shelf that runs through the Arctic, is an extension of Russian territory.
MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Russia staked a symbolic claim to the resource-rich Arctic on Thursday when a submersible dived beneath the ice directly under the North Pole and planted a Russian flag on the seabed.
The Akademik Fedorov research ship carried about 100 scientists to the region.
The rust-proof titanium flag was planted on the seabed 4,261 meters (13,980 ft) under the surface of the Arctic Ocean, Itar-Tass news agency quoted Vladimir Strugatsky, vice president of Russia's polar exploration association, as saying from a support vessel.
Russia wants to extend the territory in the Arctic it controls right up to the North Pole. The region is believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves.
Under international law, the five states with territory inside the Arctic Circle -- Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States and Denmark via its control of Greenland -- have a 320 km (200 mile) economic zone around the north of their coastline.
But Russia is claiming a larger slice extending as far as the pole because, Moscow says, the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by one continental shelf.