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Russian North Pole Mission Resumes After Repairs

Russia is trying to claim territory north of its Arctic coast (file photo) (epa) July 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A Russian research ship resumed its expedition to the North Pole early today after repairs were completed on its engine, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported.

The research ship "Akademik Fyodorov" left Russia's port of Murmansk on July 24. It broke down on July 25 due to a problem with an engine on its main propeller, delaying the voyage for approximately 10 hours.

The expedition is part of an effort by Russia to claim territory north of its Arctic coast, thought to contain oil, gas, and mineral reserves.

According to international law, the five countries with territories inside the Arctic Circle -- Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Denmark, via its control of Greenland -- have control of a 320-kilometer economic zone around the coastline.

Russia argued before a UN commission in 2001, however, that waters off its Arctic coast were an extension of its maritime territory.

Moscow claims that the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked via the same continental shelf.

The United States opposes Russia's claim, saying the area should be fully open to international shipping.

The United Nations has yet to rule on Russia's claim.

The melting of parts of the Arctic ice caps has sparked interest in the areas potential energy resources.

A team of experts from the mission are planning to launch a minisubmarine to search for seabed samples, and to plant a Russian flag at the North Pole to symbolically claim the territory for Russia.

RFE/RL Russia Report

RFE/RL Russia Report

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