Russia’s activities in Antarctica raise fears in the United Kingdom

Russia’s activities in Antarctica raise fears in the United Kingdom
Russia’s activities in Antarctica raise fears in the United Kingdom

The exploration work of the Russian polar research vessel Alexander Karpinsky in 2020 has generated fears among British MPs that Moscow is going to try to extract oil from a part of that southern territory claimed by both the United Kingdom and Chile and Argentina, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The conservative newspaper echoes a recent parliamentary commission in which some deputies expressed their concern to government representatives on whether the Russian Executive would be thinking about appropriating hydrocarbonswhich would violate the 1959 international Antarctic treaty.

The fear is based on the admission four years ago by the Russian geological agency Rosgeo that the Karpinsky studies had identified some 70 billion tons of oil and gas buried beneath the Antarctic shelf.


The head of the polar regions department at the Foreign Office in London, Jane Rumbleassured the deputies of the House of Commons (lower) that “There is no evidence that indicates a violation of the treatysince different equipment would be needed to do topography than for exploitation” of the subsoil.

“But yes, we are following it very closely and Russia has been approached about this issue on previous occasions and has assured (other signatories of the Antarctic Treaty) on multiple occasions that this is a scientific program,” he added.

While Antarctica, where exploration is only permitted for scientific purposes, is not governed by any country, seven have historically claimed parts of the territory, including the United Kingdom, Argentina and Chile.


The newspaper notes that, although Moscow maintains that the geological studies are scientific in nature, “experts are increasingly concerned that they represent another sample of the so-called ‘gray zone tactics’ that the Kremlin uses around the world.

According to the newspaper, these experts believe that “the activities of Rosgeo ships, such as the Karpinsky – and other infrastructure established by Russia – present a diplomatic dilemmadue to its capacity for both civil and military purposes”.

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