Russia makes new underwater passes at Arctic oil, nickel and gold riches

Publish date: October 2, 2008

A Russian nuclear submarine completed a month-long mission under the Arctic ice as Russia reasserts its military power in the region, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

The submarine Ryazan of Russia’s Northern Fleet arrived today at the Vilyuchinsk base on the Kamchatka peninsula after sailing for more than 30 days without surfacing, the navy said today in a faxed statement.

“Russia’s submariners haven’t lost the skill of making long sub-ice voyages, and they gave a worthy confirmation of the quality of our national school of fulfilling complex missions in Arctic waters,” Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, head of the navy, said in the statement according to Bloomberg.

In the last year, Russia has conducted large-scale war games in the Arctic, including long-range bombers, beefing up its military presence as it tries to claim the region’s vast resources. On Sept. 17, President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia’s “main task” is to turn the Arctic into a “resource base.”

Russia is jockeying for Arctic territory with the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark, which all have territorial claims in the region.

Russian explorers planted a flag on the Arctic seabed directly beneath the North Pole last year, symbolically staking a claim to an area that may hold 10 billion tons of oil equivalent, as well as deposits of gold, nickel and diamonds, according to the Russian government.