Patrushev Lays Claim To Arctic

Russia must stake its claim to a slice of the Arctic's vast resources, Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev said Friday at an unprecedented session of the council held on a desolate Arctic island.

The country is in a race with Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States for control of the oil, gas and precious metals that would become more accessible if global warming shrinks the Arctic ice cap.

Underlining Russia's claims to the region, Patrushev assembled the defense and interior ministers and the speakers of both houses of the parliament for the meeting on the Arctic island, national news agencies reported.

Russia says a whole swath of the Arctic seabed should belong to it because the area is really an extension of the Siberian continental shelf.

"The Arctic must become Russia's main strategic resource base," Patrushev was quoted as saying. The council usually meets in Moscow.

Patrushev, a former head of the Federal Security Service, said competition from other Arctic powers was increasing and that Russia must strengthen transport links across its Arctic regions to drive development. Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States and Denmark — which governs Greenland — all have a shoreline within the Arctic Circle, and have a 320-kilometer economic zone around the north of their coastlines.

The special Security Council session was held at the Nagurskaya base, Russia's nothernmost border outpost.