Staunton, Dec. 23 – A year ago, it appeared likely that Moscow would secure UN recognition of its expansive claims to a large portion of the Arctic Sea and underlying seabed (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/08/moscow-again-makes-expansive-claims-to.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/04/moscow-close-to-un-recognition-that-its.html).
But in the dramatically changed international environment following Putin’s expanded invasion of Ukraine, Moscow’s pursuit of such recognition has faced mounting difficulties, with the Arctic Council effectively ceasing to operate and Russian claims questioned by ever more countries in the West.
Despite that, Moscow assumed it could succeed at the UN the US is not a direct participant in discussions there Washington has never ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty. And as recently as August, Moscow indicated it would press ahead with its effort to gain recognition (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/08/moscow-plans-new-push-for-un.html).
Now, however, it faces a new obstacle. On December 19, Canada filed an addendum its claims on the Arctic Sea and seabed extending them into areas that Russia is also laying claim to (thebarentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2022/12/canada-extends-continental-shelf-claim-increasing-overlaps-russia-arctic).
At the very least, Canada’s competing claim will delay final action on Moscow’s and may mean that the Russian side will not gain the international recognition it has been seeking for many years. That is certain to infuriate the Russian authorities as they will now find it much harder to get international financing for mineral exploration and exploitation.
And that in turn may lead some in Russia to renew their argument that if the UN doesn’t approve Moscow’s claims and do so quickly, Moscow should act unilaterally, positioning its forces in places it has claimed and raising the specter of open conflict with anyone challenging these (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/11/moscow-should-act-unilaterally-if-un.html).