Arctic Ocean

Arctic Ocean
   The Arctic Ocean is the northernmost of the world’s oceans, and is almost completely surrounded by the Eurasian and North American landmasses. It is covered by ice most of the year; however, in recent years, global warming has resulted in less ice than in centuries past. The basin is roughly circular, and covers an area of 14,000,000 square kilometers. Russia’s is the longest national coastline, comprising about half of the Arctic’s total of 45,390 kilometers. Other countries with Arctic coastlines include Canada, the United States, Norway, and Denmark (via Greenland). A number of Russian islands are located in the Arctic Ocean, including Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, Wrangel Island, and the New Siberian Islands.
   Under Vladimir Putin, Russia began to aggressively defend its status as an Arctic power. A submarine mission planted a Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole, and new geological expeditions have been undertaken to prove that the Lomonsonov Ridge is part of Russia’s Eurasian shelf, thus expanding the country’s territorial waters. Canada and Denmark both reacted harshly to the new posture. At stake are both revenues from increased transit via the ice-free portions of the ocean during the summer, and rights to future oil and natural gas exploration.
   In 2009, the Kremlin announced plans to create a new military force dedicated to defending Russia’s national interests in its northern waters. Moscow views the Arctic as potentially its top strategic resource base in future decades. Canada, the country with the secondlargest Arctic coastline, and the United States have responded by beefing up their own military presence in the Arctic Circle.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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