OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada on Thursday dismissed what it said were stunts by Russia in the resource-rich Arctic, including a reported plan to land paratroopers at the North Pole later this week.
Canada and Russia are among five nations with Arctic borders that are currently working to stake out territorial claims over what geologists say could be massive reserves of oil, gas and minerals.
Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, after a visit this week with scientists in the Arctic who are working on Canada’s claims, said that he was aware of reports that Russia intended to land paratroopers at the North Pole on Saturday.
“I don’t take it seriously ... the Russians are playing games as to who can plant a flag or who can send paratroopers there,” he told a news conference after highlighting the work he had seen the Canadian specialists performing.
“I thought the contrast was striking. We take our job seriously and it seemed to me that the Russians were just pulling stunts,” he said.
No one at the Russian embassy was immediately available for comment.
Last year, Russian news agencies reported the plan to land paratroopers at the North Pole on April 10 to mark the 60th anniversary of a similar feat by Soviet forces.
The North Pole is in international waters and not controlled by any country. In August 2007, a Russian submarine planted a flag on the seabed at the Pole, an act that prompted an irritated reaction from Ottawa.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson