Interview with Pyotr Obraztsov

Pyotr Obraztsov, a journalist from the daily Izvestia newspaper, joined Russia Today to comment on the implications of the Arctic expedition.

Russia Today: What's at stake for Russia there?

Pyotr Obraztsov: I would like to start from the beginning. In 1982 the UN accepted a maritime law convention. In 1997 the Russian Federation joined it. According to that convention, the shelf is a territory only countries located near the sea-coast can explore as their economical activity. What is important for us is that in that convention there is another addition, stating that if this shelf has a certain underwater continuation, also only that countries can fulfill economical activity on that hilly continuation. The two underwater ridges are actually such a continuation, the Lomonosov ridge and the Mendeleyev ridge, which stretch on from Siberia. The profit which Russia can obtain if it is proved that those two ridges, especially the Lomonosov ridge, are a continuation of our shelf – the benefit is enormous, because it is expected that this ridge is extremely rich in oil and gas, and possibly other minerals.

RT: What's for the other countries that border the Arctic as well, like Canada and the U.S. for instance?

P.O.: Concerning Canada and the U.S. – we are not supposed to have any contradictions with them because both Lomonosov and Mendeleyev ridges do not touch the Arctic claims of America and the U.S. Concerning Denmark, to which Greenland belongs to, that might cause a serious economic, though not political, conflict because the Lomonosov ridge stretches from our shelf all along to Greenland shelf. Russia believes that nevertheless the Lomonosov ridge is a continuation of our shelf, and Greenland believes that it is not right, and then somehow we will have to negotiate. And the purpose of this expedition which is on its way to the North Pole is to prove that that ridge and our shelf are of the same geological structure, not like the Greenland shelf.

RT: Is this the beginning of the new dispute between the two countries, from your point of view?

P.O.: We are already debating now, I am one of the parties of this dispute, and I cannot exclude that at the same moment on the other side of the North Pole a similar programme is on air, and some Danes are explaining that the Lomonosov ridge is their ridge. Moreover, this discussion is already being held in the newspapers. Our newspapers have already published several articles on this topic, and I know that the Denmark newspapers also published some articles concerning this issue, and Canadian newspapers as well. This dispute is 'in absentia' now, but it is still held.

RT: Is Norway interested in this dispute as well?

P.O.: We have quite curious relations with Norway, because we have already had a dispute about how our state border, between Russia and Norway, is drawn in the sea, because there is a great supply of fish there. The dispute has already been there, where the border is, where we can fish there and where Norwegians can. But we came to an agreement with them, so everything is all right with Norway. We have no disagreement with Norway concerning those underwater ridges.

RT: What is the way to solve the dispute with Denmark?

P.O.: First of all, we have to prove that those two ridges are really a continuation of our shelf, this is just a scientific, geological problem. If it is proved, and if it is accepted by other countries, then the problem is solved.