Russia has taken a bizarre step to declare its “ownership” of the Arctic Ocean region by having a Russian Orthodox bishop “consecrate” the North Pole on behalf of the church.
According to the Daily Telegraph, a bishop named Iakov of the northern Naryan-Mar (which lies north of the Arctic Circle) placed a “holy memorial capsule” into the icy sea while aboard the Rossiya, a nuclear-powered icebreaker during a polar expedition arranged by Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
The capsule featured an inscription that read: “With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the consecration of the North Pole marks 1,150 years of Russian Statehood.”
Moscow is keen to assert its domination of the Arctic, given the huge reserves of untapped oil and gas believed to reside in the region, and has also accelerated its remilitarization there. Reportedly, the Russian military’s MiG-31 supersonic interceptor aircraft will be deployed in the Arctic region by the end of this year.
According to Bishop Iakov, the consecration is important to both the Orthodox Church and the Russian people for it “symbolizes the efforts of the state to recover the positions of Russia and confirmation of its achievements in the Arctic.”
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