Move over, Santa Claus.
A group of Russian scientists has returned from an Arctic expedition, claiming that the North Pole is part of the country's turf. The argument, first made back in 2001 before the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, is that the underwater Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of the Eurasian continent, and thus as Russian as a brooding, chess-playing ballerina. The Lomonosov Ridge includes the North Pole. More importantly -- to grown-ups, anyway -- the region is estimated to contain vast hydrocarbon deposits.
Russia could use this new data to reassert its claim over 460,000 square miles of the Arctic, an area that is currently administered by an international body. The move would fit perfectly with Russia's aspirations to secure energy resources, which it can in turn use to regain geopolitical leverage.
The U.S., one of Russia's rival Arctic-abutters, would of course seek to block Russia's annexation attempt. There's a small wrinkle, however: The U.S. has failed to ratify the very U.N. treaty that governs international maritime rights.
The chessboard may be arranged in Russia's favor, but it's too soon to call checkmate. We don't know how the other Arctic actors will react to this development. Norwegian energy champion Statoil
For more Russian Foolishness, comrades: