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Russia's Putin wants beefed-up presence in Arctic

By Alexei Anishchuk MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia should step up its presence in the Arctic and challenge other nations in exploring the world's largest untapped natural reserves, days after it started shipping its first oil from the region. Russia's ambitions in the Arctic have for some time been raising eyebrows among other states vying for a presence there, but the Kremlin's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula is likely to put its Arctic plans under greater scrutiny.

Canada boycotts Arctic Council meeting in Moscow

Canada boycotted Arctic Council meetings in Russia this week in protest of Russia's "illegal occupation" of Ukraine, Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Tuesday. Aglukkaq is responsible for the Canadian Northern Development Agency and currently chairs the Arctic Council. She said the boycott of the working-group level meetings in Moscow was "as a result of Russia's illegal occupation of Ukraine and its continued provocative actions in Crimea and elsewhere. However, she added, "Canada will continue to support the important work of the Arctic Council."

Antarctica, a dream destination for tourists

As the sun sets, the cloudy sky melds with the glaring white of the frozen terrain. Tourists trudging in single file line marvel over blue glaciers in Antarctica, a hip new vacation destination. The group paid a small fortune -- $3,000 per head -- for a quick five-hour visit to the frozen continent, arriving by plane. "Coming to Antarctica was a dream for me and my wife," American John Reiss, 81, said as he stood beside his wife Sharon, 73.

S. Korea, Norway open joint polar research center

SEJONG, April 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Norway were set to launch a joint polar research center in the Scandinavian country on Thursday, the fisheries ministry said. The Collaborative Polar Research Center, located in Norway's Tromso, was to open later in the day, becoming Norway's first-ever joint research center with an Asian country, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Canada, Russia, continue to talk as part of Arctic Council meeting in Yellowknife

YELLOWKNIFE - Canada may be upset at Russia over Ukraine, but conversations with the bear continue over the Arctic. Government officials confirm that a Russian delegation is attending a meeting in Yellowknife this week held by the Arctic Council, an eight-member group of countries that ring the North. All members are attending, even though the council includes some of Russia's harshest critics, such as Canada and the United States.

Arctic shipping remains a distant dream for now, transport minister says

WASHINGTON - The centuries-old dream of shipping through the Northwest Passage will remain mostly illusory for the foreseeable future, Canada's transport minister indicated Tuesday in a blunt assessment of the challenges ahead. During an appearance in Washington, Lisa Raitt played down expectations that the Arctic is on the cusp of becoming an international shipping hub because of climate change.

Braving perilous Drake Passage to Brazil's Antarctic base

Furious ten-meter waves and icy, tempestuous gales await those intrepid enough to navigate Drake Passage, the crossing from the tip of South America to Antarctica seen by seafarers as one of the world's most dangerous voyages. After an interminable 43-hours trip negotiating waters that leave even experienced sailors queasy, the crew and a gaggle of reporters aboard the Brazilian icebreaker and oceanographic research vessel Ary Rongel finally spot land.

So far, so good: Russia's Ukraine moves not yet spilling into Arctic Council

OTTAWA - Like a pristine winter landscape, all looks surprisingly serene among Russia, Canada and their fellow Arctic Council members. But just beneath the unblemished surface, political fault lines are forming, a ripple effect of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada's allies in the G7 and NATO may have ostracized Russia over its occupation of the Crimean Peninsula, but at the Arctic Council, it appears to be business as usual, at least for now.

Russian actions in Ukraine could cause Arctic problems: Iceland PM

EDMONTON - Russia's actions in Ukraine could cause problems for international cooperation in the Arctic, says Iceland's prime minister. Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson said Russia's strongarm tactics in its former satellite could make it harder for the eight nations on the Arctic Council to reach agreements at a time when the region faces a series of critical issues. "This has a ripple effect, even though the actual events are far from the Arctic," said Gunnlaugsson, in Edmonton on a trade mission.

U.S. Navy eyes greater presence in Arctic from 2025

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy is mapping out how to expand its presence in the Arctic beginning around 2020, given signs that the region's once permanent ice cover is melting faster than expected, which is likely to trigger more traffic, fishing and resource mining.
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