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Russian officials say they have proof to back up Moscow's claim to the north pole -- and nearly half a million square miles of neutral Arctic territory -- but don't expect Denmark, Canada and the U.S. to go down without a fight. It's all part of a nakedly opportunistic attempt to cash in on energy resources made available by global warming and melting ice caps.

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For years the North Pole has been considered international territory, and that seemed to suit everyone just fine until global warming came along, making it theoretically easier to extract oil and gas from the region. The Russians kicked off the land grab by planting an underwater flag, and now Denmark is launching a similar expedition. Canada, Norway and the U.S. also have territory disputes in the Arctic.

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Although Canada and the U.S., among other nations, are disputing Russia's claim to vast territory in the Arctic, Russia has planted its flag on the ocean floor at the North Pole. Why does it matter? Well, some 25 percent of the Earth's oil reserves might be at stake.

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