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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chilingarov Announces Next Expedition to the North Pole

Russian explorers announced Wednesday a new expedition to the Arctic for later in the year to boost the country's presence there following a flag-laying stunt on the seabed under the North Pole.

Russia staked its position at the heart of a scramble with the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway for the Arctic's mineral wealth by sending a submersible to plant a Russian flag on the ocean floor under the ice cap last week.

Moscow says it has a claim to a large chunk of the seabed right up to the North Pole because it is an extension of Russia's continental shelf. But other Arctic powers are skeptical.

"Russia will strengthen its position in the Arctic," expedition leader Artur Chilingarov, the State Duma deputy and bearded 67-year-old polar adventurer, told reporters Wednesday, Itar-Tass reported.

Chilingarov said a new Arctic mission would take place in November, though he gave few details.

Chilingarov was aboard one of the submersibles that laid a rustproof Russian tricolor at a depth of 4,261 meters on the seabed.

President Vladimir Putin congratulated the expedition members at an audience with Chilingarov on Tuesday but struck a cautious tone, saying Russia needed to discuss the claims with other countries and international organizations.

Five states with territory inside the Arctic Circle -- Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States -- have a 320-kilometer economic zone around the north of their coastline.

Russia bases its claim to a bigger slice of the Arctic seabed on findings by Russian geologists who believe the Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,800-kilometer underwater mountain range that extends under the Arctic, is an extension of Russia.

Chilingarov said the new expedition, accompanied by a nuclear icebreaker, would probe the ridge with an unmanned submersible.