No need to battle over Arctic resources: Putin

Thursday, September 23, 2010

MOSCOW - There is no need for a battle over the Arctic’s resources, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the International Arctic Forum in Moscow Thursday.

“There are always predictions of growing battles in the Arctic,” said Putin, but added: “We hold that most fear-mongering scenarios for the Arctic have no basis.”

He went on to say that anyone trying to spread worries about fighting over the region was only trying to make money off the concerns.

His comments, broadcast live on Russian television, came amid concerns that a drive to seize Arctic oil and gas supplies could lead to conflicts.

Instead, Putin said, he has no doubt that problems, as well as the “geopolitical and business interests”, of the region, can be smoothed by negotiations and settled on the basis of international law.

Monaco’s Prince Albert II and Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson are among those attending the two-day forum that opened Wednesday.

Grimsson also warned about letting the Arctic once again become a source of international tension, as it was during the Cold War.

Putin said Russia was keeping a close eye on developments in the region.

Indeed, one of the problems in the region include the question of disputed land claims by Russia.

Russia hopes to present to the United Nations no later than 2014 scientific analysis showing its continental shelf extending into the Arctic, perhaps all the way up to the North Pole. Moscow hopes that would mean that large swathes of the ocean floor would then be counted as Russian territory, giving Russia access to all the oil, gas and other deposits there.

Russia, said Putin, would abide by the “strictest environmental regulations” in any efforts to draw resources from the Arctic.

Other nations bordering the Arctic, including the US and Russia, are also trying to stake their claims to the region.

On Thursday, Putin announced that Russia had significantly expanded Arctic exploration activities at the universities of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Russia has made clear in the past that it is prepared to defend its geographical interests in the North Pole with military power, and has drafted plans for basing military units in the region.

He added that the Arctic will be one of the world’s most important energy providers and transportation hubs in 50 years.

Filed under: Politics

Tags: ,
will not be displayed