The expedition to the North Pole is a scientific one and risky at that. One Russian official said placing a flag on the ocean floor was comparable to putting a flag on the moon. Russia says its expanded claim to territory is justified because the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by the Lomonosov Ridge discovered by the Soviets in 1948. Huge commercial interests, however, are at stake. 25 per cent of the world’s oil reserves could be in the Arctic. Alexander Gorelik, Director of the UN Information Centre in Moscow, said: “The interest is growing in the use of the potential wealth of the Arctic region and its shelf. One of the obvious reasons is the current state of the world’s natural resources.” Russia’s claim is disputed by other powers, not least the United States. Canada, meanwhile, has dismissed Russia’s flag-planting as more suited to the 15th century than the real world.