The Atlantic 'In mid-March, around the same time that Russia annexed Crimea, Russian officials announced another territorial coup: 52,000 square kilometers in the Sea of Okhotsk, a splotch of Pacific Ocean known as the "Peanut Hole" and believed to be rich in oil and gas.' by Uri Friedman
'A U.N. commission had recognized the maritime territory as part of
Russia's continental shelf, Russia's minister of natural resources and
environment proudly announced, and the decision would only advance the territorial claims in the Arctic that Russia had pending before the same committee.
'Russian officials were getting a bit ahead of themselves. Technically, the UN commission had approved Russia's recommendations
on the outer limits of its continental shelf—and only when Russia acts
on these suggestions is its control of the Sea of Okhotsk "final and binding."
'Still, these technicalities shouldn't obscure the larger point:
Russia isn't only pursuing its territorial ambitions in Ukraine and
other former Soviet states. It's particularly active in the Arctic
Circle, and, until recently, these efforts engendered international
cooperation, not conflict.
'But the Crimean crisis has complicated matters. Take Hillary Clinton's call
last week for Canada and the United States to form a "united front" in
response to Russia "aggressively reopening military bases” in the
Arctic. Or the difficulties U.S.
officials are having in designing sanctions that won't harm Western oil
companies like Exxon Mobil, which are engaged in oil-and-gas
exploration with their Russian counterparts in parts of the Russian
Arctic. In a dispatch from "beneath the Arctic ocean" this week, The Wall Street Journal
reported on a U.S. navy exercise, scheduled before the crisis in
Ukraine, that included a simulated attack on a Russian submarine. The
U.S. has now canceled a joint naval exercise with Russia in the region
and put various other partnerships there on hold.'