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'That time Barnaul was undoubtedly the most cultural corner of Siberia. I named it Siberian Athens'
Pyotr Tyan-Shanskiy, 1856

Russia gains vast new area twice the size of Crimea with 'the energy riches of an Ali Baba's cave'

By The Siberian Times reporter
16 March 2014

Highly prized victory comes without a shot in anger after 13 year battle in the corridors of the United Nations.

'A real Ali Baba's cave in terms of resources'. Picture: Vladimir Serebryanskiy

The Siberian land mass is officially 52,000 square kilometres bigger after an enclave in the Sea of Okhotsk was recognised as part of Russia's continental shelf. The decision comes from the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

'This water area of the Sea of Okhotsk has many biological and natural resources, which have not considered as the main income source of the country's economy and now we can consider and include it in our long-term plans,' said Sergei Donskoy, Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology.

The underwater area is roughly the size of Holland and Belgium combined.

The treasure trove includes hydrocarbon resources exceeding one billion tonnes, believes Donskoy. He has described it in the past as 'a real Ali Baba's cave in terms of resources', adding that access will long-term bring 'enormous opportunities and prospects for the Russian economy'.

Moscow sent a request in 2001 for the entire continental shelf, including the Arctic shelf, which the UN rejected demanding more data and evidence that the enclave is the natural continuation of the Russian territory. The decision, released at the weekend, is a first step in a Russian campaign to claim huge new rights based on the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges being extensions of the Siberian continental shelves. 

If approved, Russia would gain 1.2 million square kilometres of Arctic territorial waters.

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