Russia plants flag under North Pole, India launches its first Arctic expedition

Earlier this week, we reported that Russia was planning to stake a claim on the North Pole. Or, rather, the seabed deep underneath. Yesterday, two mini-submarines planted a titanium national flag on the sea floor, causing celebration in Moscow and consternation in Canada, which also claims ownership of the area. “You can’t go around the world these days dropping a flag somewhere,” said Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay. “This isn’t the 14th or 15th century.” Denmark, Norway, and the U.S. also own territory within the Arctic Circle; scoffed U.S. State Department spokesperson Tom Casey, “I’m not sure of whether they’ve put a metal flag, a rubber flag, or a bed sheet on the ocean floor. Either way, it doesn’t have any legal standing or effect on this claim.” Meanwhile, a less blustery expedition is heading north this month: a team of scientists from India will make that country’s first-ever Arctic research trip, exploring the link between the polar reaches and India’s fabled monsoons.