Russia has launched a drifting polar research centre on an ice-floe a thousand kilometres north of the Arctic circle.
Some 15 scientists will man the station all year round gathering scientific evidence the Kremlin hopes will reinforce its claims over the region’s natural resources.
Expedition head Arthur Chilingarov said: “We need to prove with the help of science that Russia is entitled to claim an enlarged external border. It is one of the functions of the station to define the limits of the Russian continental shelf.”
Russia considers its Arctic territories to be a “vital strategic asset” as does Canada, the United States, Denmark and Norway.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has congratulated the members of the expedition via ship-to-shore radio. He told a recent international conference in Moscow that disputes over the Arctic should be resolved peacefully.