Russia ready to talk with Denmark over North Pole

These two men will soon have to discuss the North Pole. Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

It might take up to 15 years to settle the Arctic delimitation issue, the Russian Foreign Ministry says.


Russia and Denmark/Greenland both want the North Pole and have submitted conflicting claims to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

A settlement of the issue will not come any time soon.

According the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it might take 10-15 years before a settlement to the overlapping claims is made, a statement reads.

The ministry underlines that the two countries have “cooperated in the whole process related to the Arctic claims and will continue to do so”.

“We have been well aware of the Danish plans […] and it has for a long time been clear that the country’s bid for extended continental shelf will include and even exceed the North Pole”, the ministry says.

While Denmark submitted its claim on 15 December 2014, Russia handed in its papers on 3rd August. The Russian bid covers an area of about 1,2 million square kilometers and includes all of the Lomonosov and Medeleev Ridges, as well as the Alfa and Chukotskoye Heights and the in between basins of Podvodnikov and Chukotskaya.

The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf will now assess the submitted claims and the comprehensive research materials included. The Russian side originally expected the UN body to review its claims already in fall 2015. However, UN Spokesman Farhan Haq underlines that it will be addressed only at the next plenary meeting of the Shelf Commission, due February or March 2016.

“Russia’s latest submission is being circulated to all 193 U.N. member states, including all charts and coordinates”, he told the New York Times.

The UN Commission will ultimately deliver its position on the continental shelf in the area. However, it does not have the mandate to delimitate the Arctic borders.

The delimitation issue will be settled in bilateral talks, the Russian Ministry underlines.

“Possible overlapping parts of our countries’ shelf in the Arctic will be delimited in a bilateral manner, in negotiations and on the basis of international law”, it maintains.