Wednesday, December 27, 2023

US Expands Arctic Shelf Claims, Likely Sparking Expanded Conflict with Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 24 – Following a UN commission decision on the basis for countries to make claims on the undersea shelfs ( and reflecting Russia’s current inability to back up its claims by actions in the Arctic (, the US had expanded its claims on the Arctic seabed.

            The State Department announced that Washington was expanding its claims in the region by 520,400 square kilometers as part of approximately a million square kilometers of expanded claims on oceans adjoining the land borders of the US (

            That puts the US in conflict with other Arctic powers who are also following the UN commission finding but above all with the Russian Federation which has made the most expansive claims to undersea territories that are extremely rich in oil, gas, minerals, and rare earth minerals (

            Moscow commentators are outraged arguing that what the US has done sets the stage for an expanded military confrontation between east and west in the north (,,, and

            Among the reasons this conflict is likely to go beyond the diplomatic and possibly quite soon is that the UN body that rules on such competing claims was established by the Law of the Sea accord that all Arctic powers except the United States have agreed to. The US has signed but not ratified that treaty.

            In 2022, Moscow announced it would push for a resolution of disputes about the Arctic seabed at the UN and will continue to do so ( But faced with this US move, the Russian government may feel empowered to use other means given that Washington is not part of the LOS process.

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