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A Russian-led expedition aims to make the first ever crossing from Russia's Arctic shore into Canada over the North Pole, a months-long voyage over precarious shifting ice floes.
The expedition, set to begin on February 17, will serve for some of the first tests of Russia's GLONASS satellite navigation technology, Moscow's bid to challenge the dominant U.S. global positioning system (GPS).
Territorial claims on the Arctic are shared by Russia, the United States, Norway, Greenland and Canada. But recent Russian moves have raised concerns that it is bent on boosting its stake over the pole's petroleum-rich sea bed.
"Russia is further ahead than anyone" in the exploration of the Arctic, expedition leader Vladimir Chukov told journalists in Moscow on Tuesday. "We're traveling a path which has never yet been taken in the Arctic." The 8,000-km (5,000-mile) voyage is expected to reach Canada by the end of May and finish by June 22, he said.