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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Russia Wants the Arctic

Writing in the Moscow Times Harley Balzer, a professor in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, offers readers top-ten list of reasons why a Russian dictator would want to make a grab for the North Pole:

10) If you don't have the technology to exploit the Shtokman gas deposits, claiming another large, ice-bound hydrocarbon source will help you learn how to do it.

9) It gets people's attention. There was a danger that U.S. President George W. Bush might want to forget all about Russia after President Vladimir Putin caught the last fish in the Kennebunkport waters.

8) Putin will need a new job in March. If the crew of the Russian icebreaker remains at the North Pole until then, he could win the local election in a landslide.

7) If the Russians don't claim the North Pole, Hugo Chavez might beat them to it.

6) Gazprom is preparing for its initial public offering, and going to the pole is a way to increase their oil and gas reserves without the hassle of mapping the rest of Siberia.

5) Russian scientists have finally accepted the reality of global warming. Once all the permafrost melts, the Arctic will be the only solid ground east of Yekaterinburg.

4) It's a sucker play. They don't really want the North Pole, but they will scare the European Union into trading a swath of the Mediterranean coastline in exchange for Russia abandoning its claim.

3) Proving that the Lomonosov Ridge extends to the North Pole might give Russia the right to claim the pole. This has opened up enormous possibilities in the international arena. Turkish geologists have found that rock samples support their ownership of the Black Sea coast all the way to the Danube. Japan has established geological rights to the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin. And U.S. geologists have discovered that the Bering Sea land bridge is an extension of Alaska, supporting a U.S. claim to everything east of the Urals.

2) Due to the government's successful demographic policies, the Far East and Siberia have become dangerously overpopulated. They need more territory.

1) A political party with medved (Russian for "bear") as its mascot could be in trouble in the December State Duma elections unless it finds some more bears.

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