MOSCOW Russia said Wednesday it would formally submit an application to the United Nations next year to redraw the map of the Arctic, giving itself a bigger share.
The plan follows a pledge last week to send troops and weapons north to guarantee its Arctic interests. The formal application to the United Nations would change the region's borders and allow exploitation of energy-rich Arctic territory.
Russia, Norway, the United States, Canada and Denmark are at odds over how to divide up the Arctic seabed, thought to hold 90 billion barrels of oil and 30 percent of the world's untapped gas resources, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
"I hope that next year we will present a formal, scientifically grounded application to the commission of the U.N.," state-run RIA news agency cited Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov as telling a government maritime board.
Top energy producer Russia has said it will spend millions of dollars on studies to prove that an underwater mountain range-- rich in oil, natural gas and mineral deposits -- is part of its own Eurasian landmass.
Canada and Denmark reject the claim, saying the geographical formation, known as the Lomonosov Ridge, which stretches across the Arctic Sea, is a geographical extension of their own land.
Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky also warned on Wednesday that increased focus from NATO on the region was threatening Moscow's Arctic interests.
"Recently, we have been receiving confirmations that NATO has marked the Arctic as a zone of its interests," RIA quoted the navy chief as saying at the same board meeting.
Russia says it will counter potential threats to its energy and mineral interests in the region through the creation of two brigades of Arctic troops. Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said last week that details were still being worked out.
Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom runs two major gas projects in the Arctic, including one with Statoil, while state-run oil major Rosneft is seeking partners to operate three Kara Sea fields.
Global warming has boosted expectations that the Arctic may also provide new mining, fishing and shipping prospects as the ice cap melts.
Moscow submitted an application to the U.N. to claim the Lomonosov Ridge in 2001, but the document was returned and Moscow was asked to provide more proof for its claim.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said late last month that Russia would finish mapping of its Arctic shelf by 2013 and submit its application to the U.N. on its claim to the Lomonosov Ridge by 2014.
Canada has said it will submit its application on the territory in 2013.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says that any coastal state can claim its own landmass 200 nautical miles from its shoreline and exploit the natural resources within that zone.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)
(This story was corrected to remove reference to BP in paragraph 10)