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‘Ali Baba’s cave’: UN declares Russian sovereignty over resource-rich Sea of Okhotsk enclave

Published time: November 16, 2013 01:09
Edited time: November 16, 2013 05:45
RIA Novosti / I. Nosov

RIA Novosti / I. Nosov

A UN subcommittee has agreed with arguments presented by Russia and has tentatively declared that 52,000 square kilometers of the Sea of Okhotsk, which borders Japan, is part of the country’s continental shelf, according to the Russian government.

Once the declaration receives complete approval, Russia will have exclusive rights to the area in the center of the sea, which “presents enormous opportunities for the Russian economy,” the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a Friday statement. 

Once approved, the area - often referred to as the Peanut Hole - will be considered an inland sea. The ministry described the enclave as a “real Ali Baba’s cave” because it has “plentiful precious minerals and natural resources.”

The area is currently considered to be international waters, meaning that other countries could enter the sea to fish or do any other activity approved by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

A view of Yuzhno-Kurilsk, Kunashir Island in the Sea of Okhotsk. (RIA Novosti / Alexander Liskin)

Some of the exclusive rights to be granted to Russia once the declaration is approved include rights to the enclave’s subsoil resources and seabed. Russia will also have rights over fishing, safety, and environmental protection of the area.

"Thanks to recognition of this enclave as a part of the Russian continental shelf, our country will gain more reserves of valuable minerals and other natural resources,” Natural Resources and Environment Minister Sergey Donskoy said in a press release. "It took Russia many years to achieve this success."

The UN subcommittee’s declaration will be handed in for final approval to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf at a meeting in February-March 2014.

The Sea of Okhotsk is located off Russia’s southeastern coast. It is surrounded by Russia on all three sides and borders Japan to the south. The seabed is known to contain enormous amounts of natural resources. According to 2011 estimates by oil giant Rosneft, five sites in the shelf of the Sea of Okhotsk may contain 1.1 billion tons of oil and two trillion cubic meters of gas.

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Comments (22)


truth 19.04.2014 18:56

[quote name='Theodoros Roumeliotis' time='16.11.2013 20:45']

the y have never forgotten Hiroshima or Nagasaki its true But even with its many faults I much prefer America to Japan I do feel sorry for the innocent Japanese who perished from the A bombs but unfortunately if the war carried on it would a been more casualties n the outcome would a been the same the American involvement in ww2 actually saved a lot more people than it killed to be fait to them


Henry 19.04.2014 13:43

Rostislav Babiak 15.03.2014 11:41

UN declares Russian sovereignty over Sea of Okhotsk. In other news, the Obama administration claims that it has intelligence that the fish population want independence from Russia and that the US will back the new state of Fishatania in exchange for the oil drilling rights.


I can imagine Obama saying "We are preparing another set of sanctions against Russia for their actions in distorting the peace of fishes in Okhotsk"

And John Kerry be like "Whatever it takes we must defend the basic right of the fishes in Okhotsk"


Rostislav Babiak 15.03.2014 11:44

Commander 16.11.2013 02:42

This is very good news for the Federation of Russia. However, it can be expected that Washington will apply pressure at the UN on behalf of Japan, in order to obtain a reversal of this decision.


In that case just send in the Russian armed forces and shoot any and all American and foreign poachers.

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