Did the Danes get carried away with geological plagiarism? Let's try to figure it out.
History With the Arctic shelf stretches for quite a long time, since the beginning of the century. And nothing has changed.
Since 2001, Moscow has unsuccessfully proved to the world community that the underwater ridge of Lomonosov is a continuation of Eurasia, that is, it seems to be part of the territory of the Russian Federation. This year after year, evidence is examined (and some successfully rejected) by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. It includes more than two dozen experts from different countries. They sit several times a year. Usually, the “congress” of experts, at which applications are considered (and any decision is made or not on them), lasts for 4-5 days.
At the end of 2001, Moscow submitted its first application to the UN Commission for the extension of the Arctic shelf.
Recall, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the economic zone of states is allowed to expand, but under one condition: the seabed outside the zone is a natural extension of the continent's edge. The boundaries of the shelf belonging to a certain state, by default, are recognized as equal to two hundred nautical miles. In its application, Moscow insisted on the right of inclusion in its continental shelf submarine spaces off the northern coast and east coast. Scientists from Russia who know about the hydrocarbon riches of the Arctic shelf, made an attempt to convince UN experts of the Lomonosov ridge to belong to the Eurasian continent. International experts did not approve the application due to insufficient evidence. That application was considered relatively quickly: in June 2002, the document was rejected indicating insufficient detailing of the bottom relief maps and insufficient substantiation of the continental nature of the elevations mentioned in the list and their connection with the Siberian shelf.
Years passed, during which a new application was prepared. This is not just a piece of paper: relevant studies have been conducted.
In order to study the Arctic Ocean shelf in May-September 2007, Russia organized the expedition “Arctic-2007”. 1 August scientists reached the North Pole, and the next day, the deep-sea habitable apparatuses Mir-1 and Mir-2 descended to the bottom and carried out oceanographic, hydrometeorological and ice surveys, for the first time in history, they conducted an experiment to collect soil and flora from depth 4261 meter. The results of the expedition became the basis of the position of Russia in deciding the issue of belonging to the relevant part of the Arctic shelf.
A few years later, in the autumn of 2014, when the scientific ship Akademik Fyodorov returned from the Arctic, Moscow announced the completion of work to form an application to the UN to extend the shelf.
In the new expanded application of Russia, among other things, it was pointed out that there were unresolved questions about the delimitation of maritime spaces with Denmark and Canada. The fact is that Denmark’s application to the shelf north of Greenland, filed in December 2014 of the year, blocked the areas included in the Russian application (polar region and part of the Lomonosov Ridge). Canada’s application may concern Mendeleev’s uplift (reference is given to RIA News").
Expanded application of Russia, recalls TASS, discussed at the 41 session of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in August 2016. Later, in December of 2016, Moscow submitted to the commission’s experts additional information justifying the application.
According to the director of the Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics (INGG SB RAS), Academician Mikhail Epov, the updated Russian application, which was considered by UN experts in August 2016, is very demonstrative.
The first application of Russia, the expert noted, did not pass due to the lack of evidence base (reliable geological data and seismic exploration). "I believe that now the data are presented with a very high degree of reliability," - quotes the scientist RIA News".
“One of the main evidence is the findings of paleontologists, who establish the age of the finds and paleogeography. This is one of the reliable evidence that at that time it was a continent, and not a sea, ”said Epov.
He also noted that if basic research in the relevant field had not begun seventy years ago, now Russia would have nothing to imagine the UN.
An extended application, we add, the UN experts can consider for a long time, for example, five years or a little less. The term of consideration can be reduced by negotiation. But so far there is no progress in this direction.
What does Russia want today? The same as before. She plans to “connect” the Lomonosov Ridge and other areas of the seabed, including the Podvodnikov basin, the Mendeleev Ridge, the southern tip of the Gakkel Ridge and the North Pole zone.
Why is this necessary? Russia plans to “grow” the Arctic not only geographically, but also “hydrocarbonically”: there, as it is supposed, mineral reserves are large.
There are about six dozen fields located beyond the Arctic Circle, and of these 43 are located in the Russian Federation sector. The total resources of the Russian Arctic are estimated by experts in 106 billion tons of oil equivalent, and gas reserves in 69,5 trillion. cubic meters. According to some minimum estimates, the “increment” of the above-mentioned part of the Arctic by Russia would have made it possible to obtain quantities of hydrocarbons, which would be enough to produce 5 billion tons of standard fuel.
The Arctic is engaged not only in the indicated UN commission.
Unlike issues of geology and geography, the Arctic Council solves issues of international cooperation in the Arctic. This organization was established in 1996 year in accordance with the Ottawa Declaration. The Intergovernmental Forum promotes cooperation, primarily in the field of environmental protection.
The members of the Arctic Council are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
And recently, Moscow was politely reminded of the need for a “constructive” approach within this Council.
As Margot Wallstrom, Swedish Foreign Minister, said the other day, the Arctic Council remains an important platform for constructive discussions with Russia. “All forums dedicated to international cooperation are especially important now, when nationalism and polarization are growing, and the idea that countries should think first and foremost about their own interests and not look for multilateral solutions is gaining more and more popularity,” Vallstrom said. international conference "Arctic Frontiers" in the Norwegian polar city of Tromsø. “In addition, we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Russia in the Arctic Council and conduct a constructive dialogue with it, although in other areas we may experience a conflict of interest” (quoted by TASS).
It is important to know that in 2015, the chairmanship of the Council passed (for two years) to the United States. In May 2017, the States will hand over the Finnish presidency. In the meantime, everyone is looking at Trump. Including Russia.
Recently, on January 21, the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, Sergey Donskoy, made a statement, which has spread all over the Russian press.
According to him, Russia has a number of significant observations on the justification of the Danish application for expanding the borders of the shelf in the Arctic, including the use of Russian geological information. "We are negotiating not only in the UN Committee, but also with countries that border with us, with Denmark, Canada," - quotes him Interfax.
“So far we have questions for the Danes. Specialists of the Ministry of Environment were in December in Copenhagen, and there they presented a preliminary concept, ”said Donskoy. - In addition, comments were submitted regarding their application. We showed where we diverged, and seriously enough. " “We have main observations in the justification. Given that most of the Danish application is based on the use of our geological materials, ”the minister added.
Where did the Danes take the Russian materials?
According to Donskoy, these materials were open to analysis for reasonableness.
Also, the head of the Ministry of Environment said that the Russian side in the future will hold talks with the United States on the issue of expanding borders in the Arctic, despite the fact that Washington has not ratified the agreement on the delimitation of the Arctic continental shelf.
Is there any chance of such negotiations? And what will they be like if Washington has not even ratified the necessary agreement?
“What will be the procedure - this is already a matter of the future, but in any case, the negotiations will have to be held,” believes Donskoy. He also noted transmits TASSthat Russia has always taken into account the fact of disagreement by the United States with the Russian bid to expand the limits of the continental shelf in the Arctic.
“Naturally, we considered all this as a fact, it has long been known. The second point is that in any case we have, in addition to the fact that the (UN) commission has to consider the application and confirm its validity, further (coming) negotiations with those countries with which we border: Danes, Canadians, ”the minister said. agency.
Meanwhile, in other countries, Trump is simply being laughed at, exposing him in a bad light.
“Donald Trump heard about the Arctic?” - пишет Silke Bigalke in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. And he adds: “No one knows what Trump’s policy in the Arctic will be like,” said David Balton, US representative on the Arctic Council, and he should be aware of it. Balton will chair the meetings of the Arctic Council while the United States holds the presidency before the powers will be transferred to Finland in May. Former President Barack Obama became the first US president to visit the US Arctic, and later banned oil and gas production in large parts of the region. “Do you think Trump ever heard of the Arctic?” The host asks Balton. "Apparently not," he answers.
Some Russian experts, however, are optimistic about Russia's arctic future.
“If the decision of the commission is not in our favor, we can always try to“ come in ”from the other side,” said "Free Press" Alexander Shpunt, Director General of the Institute for Political Analysis Tools. - In any case, I see no reason not to try to enlist the support of the main international organization. We already had a positive experience when the Sea of Okhotsk was recognized as the exclusive economic zone of Russia. You can try to repeat. "
The situation with the Arctic "increment", we add, should be considered still uncertain. The UN Commission, which has been dragging on the recognition of Russian territories for so many years, will undoubtedly continue to pull. Apparently, Moscow is counting on some support from Washington, relying on Donald Trump. It seems to us that such hopes are meaningless. Trump is a US president, not a Russian one, and he clearly does not intend to expand Russia geographically. He will not strengthen the political opponent, it is obvious. In addition, the United States has not yet ratified the agreement on the delimitation of the Arctic continental shelf.
Probably, the main disputes over the shelf will unfold not now, but in the warm season: in May, the chairmanship of the Arctic Council will be transferred to Finland, and in the summer the United Nations commission will change its composition.
Observed and commented on Oleg Chuvakin
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