According to Russia Today, a Moscow-based conservative think tank wants Russia's leaders to assert the country's influence over the Arctic Ocean by officially naming it the "Russian Ocean."
"It's traditional to name seas and oceans after the countries that have the most influence over them," explained Nikolay Pavlyuk, head of the think tank, the Institute of Expert Assessments. Russia's territorial waters are the largest in the Arctic, its shelf is rich in mineral resources, its Arctic fleet is large and its contribution to the region's research is widely renowned, he added.
Russia's leadership has long maintained that a basis exists to claim territory beyond its exclusive economic zone, which in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, currently extends up to 200 miles from the coast.
"A significant part of the ocean bed is a sort of natural continuation of the bedrock which starts in Russia," Pavlyuk continued, referring to a 2007 effort to map the Mendeleev and Lomonosov Ridges under the Arctic Ocean.
The mapping project purported to find support for the claim that those undersea ridges are continental extensions of Russia's land mass, and by extension could undergird oceanic territorial claims. The most-publicized event of the effort was when a submersible planted a tiny, titanium Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole.
So, is this just more Arctic sabre-rattling from a segment of Russia bent on making a resource-fueled land-grab in the newly opening Arctic? Nope, according to Pavlyuk speaking to the Voice of Russia. He says there's a difference between a name and an international border, and that he wants to put the idea out for public discussion and evaluation.