Moscow The United States and Canada have scoffed at a Russian submarine expedition that planted a Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole. Coming home to a hero's welcome Tuesday, the famous polar scientist who led the risky voyage did not mince words in responding.
"I don't give a damn what all these foreign politicians there are saying about this," Artur Chilingarov told a throng of well-wishers. "If someone doesn't like this, let them go down themselves ... and then try to put something there. Russia must win. Russia has what it takes to win. The Arctic has always been Russian."
Thursday's dive by two small submarines was partly a scientific expedition. But it could mark the start of a fierce legal scramble for control of the seabed - and what could be vast energy reserves beneath - among nations that border the Arctic, including Russia, the U.S., Canada, Norway and Denmark, through its territory Greenland.
The United States promptly dismissed the Russian move as legally meaningless. Canadian Foreign Minister Peter Mackay said the voyage was "just a show" and that Russia could not expect to claim territory under the rules of "the 15th century."