More on the race to claim the Arctic. The Russian “scientific” operation was a sham.
Despite the fact that a huge number of people were involved in the mission, it was more of a tourist trip than a scientific expedition. Two foreigners paid a substantial part of the expedition costs. According to Novaya Gazeta, the Swede Frederik Paulsen and the Australian Mike McDowel each payed 100,000 USD per day for their participation. Both men joined the two mini-subs, the Mir-1 and Mir-2, to the 4200 meter deep sea bed by the North Pole. The expedition was headed by Artur Chiligarov, deputy speaker in the lower house of the Russian parliament and a well know Soviet polar hero. The expedition was made with research vessel „Academician Fyodorov”, the flagship in the fleet of Russian research ships, and it was well orchestrated and closely followed up by the press. Both President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov officially expressed their support to the expedition members.
However, the mission had hardly any scientific purposes. The Russian scientific establishment confirm that Russia already has picked the geological samples it needs from the North Pole sea bed. As a matter of fact, another research expedition, also named “Arctica-2007″ were picking geological samples in the area only two months prior to Mr. Chilingarov’s mission. Furthermore, Novaya Gazeta writes, the North Pole point is located outside the socalled Lomonosov structure, the sub-sea geological area which Russia claims to be part of the Siberian shelf.
Canada and the United States scoffed at the legal significance of the dive by a Russian mini-sub to set the flag on the seabed Thursday. “This isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and just plant flags” to claim territory, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, Peter MacKay, told reporters.