Moscow: The Russian government on Saturday published a decree expanding its continental shelf in the Sea of Okhotsk, putting into law last year`s UN decision to grant the territory to Moscow.
The move was agreed with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and Russia`s neighbours, including Japan, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in remarks made while visiting the Kuril islands.
"I have signed a decree that sets the Russian border on the Okhotsk Sea continental shelf," he was quoted by Russian agencies as saying.
"This means that we can develop our shelf where there are vast sources of raw materials, vast energy deposits.
"As a result our shelf got 50 thousand square kilometres (19,000 square miles) larger," he said.
The decree setting the area as Russia`s economic zone, which was posted on the government`s website on Saturday, is dated August 15.
Under international law, a country has exclusive economic rights over the continental shelf within a 200-nautical-mile (370-kilometre) radius from its coast.
Russia has been claiming its economic right over large parts of the continental shelf, and earlier this month filed a submission at the UN commission for some 1.2 million square kilometres of the Arctic shelf, including the North Pole.
The Okhotsk shelf submission concerns a sliver of open sea -- the so-called "peanut hole" -- which lies beyond the 200 kilometre line in the middle of the marginal sea between Russia`s Kamchatka peninsula and the Sakhalin island.
It has been a subject of disputes after over-fishing became a problem in the early 1990s.
Russia`s submission was first filed in 2001 and refiled again in February 2013. It was reviewed and approved last year and did not draw objections from Japan, which however noted that it still considers four Kuril islands south of Kamchatka its own.
Russia is developing several oil and gas fields in the Okhotsk sea near Sakhalin island and plans to expand production, though some of the projects have fallen under US sanctions over Moscow`s actions over Ukraine.