Canada dismissed Russia's flag-planting at the North Pole on Thursday as a "15th century" stunt that does not bolster its disputed claim to the resource-rich Arctic.
"Look, this isn't the 15th century. You can't go around the world and plant flags and say, 'We're claiming this territory,'" Foreign Minister Peter MacKay told broadcaster CTV.
Earlier, a Russian mini-submarine reached the bottom of the Arctic Ocean under the North Pole at a depth of 4,261 meters (13,980 feet), to carry out scientific tests and leave a Russian flag.
The dive is believed to be the first of its kind and aims to advance Russian claims to a vast swathe of Arctic seabed thought to be rich in oil and gas.
"Our claims over our Arctic are very well-established," MacKay commented.
"There is no threat to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic and as you know, we've made very strong commitments, the prime minister has been there recently, may be there again (soon), so we're not at all concerned about this (stunt).
"It's basically just a show by Russia," he said.
After meeting with his caucus, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters the Russian sortie "shows once again that sovereignty over the north and 'our Arctic' is going to be an important issue as we move into the future."
Canada's government "has put a real emphasis on northern and Arctic sovereignty and we will continue to do so," he said, vowing to move swiftly to halt further encroachment on its northern frontier.
Russia, Canada, the United States, Denmark and Norway are at odds over parts of the 1.2 million square kilometers (460,000 square miles) of Arctic seabed.
The international rivalry in the region has intensified as energy reserves grow scarce in other parts of the world, and as the melting of the polar ice caps makes the area more accessible for research and economic activity.
As well, time is running out for signatories to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to stake their claims to the region, as deadlines loom to prove their rights.
Scientists believe that warming could open up the famed Northwest Passage to year-round cargo shipping by 2050, as well as lay bare an estimated 9 billion tonnes of Arctic oil and gas deposits.
A Northwest Passage open year-round would reduce the sea trip from London to Tokyo to 16,000 kilometers (9,950 miles), against 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles) via the Suez Canal or 23,000 kilometers (14,300 miles) going through the Panama Canal.
But some experts warn that oil and gas reserves in the region are not large enough to offset the operational costs and difficulties of working in frigid Arctic conditions.
Russia ratified the UN pact in 1997 and has until the end of this year to submit evidence to the United Nations that a section of undersea territory known as the Lomonosov Ridge, which includes the North Pole, is in fact a geological extension of Russia.
It must offer geological proof that its continental shelf extends beyond its 200 nautical mile (370 kilometer) economic zone.
"That's why Russia is so active in the Arctic lately," said Michael Byers, who holds the Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
In 2002, Russia argued at the United Nations that there was geological data backing their claim that the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by a single continental shelf.
The world body dismissed Moscow's application then, citing a lack of evidence, but Russia is expected to try again.
Some 100 scientists aboard the Akademik Fedorov are now looking for the crucial evidence that the 2,000 kilometer (1,240 mile) long underwater mountain range that crosses the polar region is indeed an extension of Russia.
Canada has until 2013 to prove its claim.
Next week, Harper is expected to tour the Arctic, while a massive military exercise "designed to assert Canadian sovereignty in the north" kicks off at the southern tip of Baffin Island.
The exercise would include coast guard frigates, navy submarines and military aircraft, as well as 800 soldiers, federal police and Inuit rangers, said Brigadier General Chris Whitecross, commander of Joint Task Force North.
It follows plans announced last month by Harper to build six to eight ice-breaking patrol ships to prevent trespass of Canada's northern territories and to reaffirm its claim to the Arctic, at a cost of 7.1 billion dollars (US).
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