Medvedev: Russia needs to mark its Arctic territory

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The Independent Online

Russia should pass a law marking its territory in the disputed Arctic where it claims a large share of the mineral resources, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said today.

Geologists believe valuable energy and mineral deposits lie below the Arctic seabed and it is only a matter of time before global warming melts the icecap making them accessible to miners.

"We must finalise and adopt a federal law on the southern border of Russia's Arctic zone," Medvedev told Russia's security council according to Interfax news agency.

"It is our duty to our direct descendents, we have to ensure the long-term national interests of Russia in the Arctic."

Last year a Russian mini-submarine dived to the seabed underneath the North Pole icecap and symbolically planted a Russian flag to claim the Arctic for the Kremlin.

International law states that the five countries which control Arctic coastline - Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark - are allowed a 320 km (200 mile) economic zone north of their shores.

But countries have until May 2009 to submit new ownership claims over the Arctic to a United Nations commission.

Russia has claimed jurisdiction over much of the Arctic because an underwater ridge links Siberia to the seabed that runs underneath the North Pole.