MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian explorers dived deep below the North Pole in a submersible on Thursday and planted a national flag on the seabed to stake a symbolic claim to the energy riches of the Arctic.
But Canada mocked Russia's ambitions and said the expedition was nothing more than a show.
"This isn't the 15th century. You can't go around the world and just plant flags and say 'We're claiming this territory'," Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay told CTV television.
Under international law, the five states with territory inside the Arctic Circle -- Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States and Denmark via its control of Greenland -- have a 320 km (200 mile) economic zone around the north of their coastline.
Russia is claiming a larger slice extending as far as the pole because, Moscow says, the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by one continental shelf.
Soviet and U.S. nuclear submarines have often traveled under the polar icecap, but no one had reached the seabed under the Pole, where depths exceed 4,000 meters (13,100 feet).OK, silly flag-planting-posturing aside, it's pretty cool that they could get down there to even try this stunt. I figure that international lawyers will work out who gets the rights to what undersea coastline, but I'm impressed with the technological feat itself.