okfarmer said:Heard on the radio today that the US was giving away something like 7 Alaskan islands to Russia.
I dang near wrecked. What is this all about?
October 7, 2000
Oil adds to Alaskans' ire at island giveaway
Congress ignores legislature's resolution condemning transfer to Russia
By David M. Bresnahan - ©© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
Alaskan legislators, trying to block the U.S. government's controversial treaty ceding to Russia eight islands belonging to Alaska, now have one more reason to fight -- in addition to sovereignty, state's rights and the fishing industry -- namely, oil.
"The issues involve not only state sovereignty over vital territories but also significant national defense concerns and substantial economic losses over fisheries and petroleum,"
said Alaska state Rep. John B. Coghill, R-Dist. 32.
"The U.S. State Department cannot continue to allow further encroachment of Alaska's states rights and valuable economic resources."
The Senate ratified the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Maritime Boundary Treaty in 1991, which was then signed by President George Bush.
The agreement transfers to Russia the islands of Wrangell, Herald, Bennett, Henrietta, and Jeannette Islands in the Arctic, and Copper Island, Sea Lion Rock, and Sea Otter Rock on the west end of the Aleutian chain. The problem, say Coghill and his colleagues in the Alaska legislature, is that it gives Russia access to vast oil and fishing areas without any compensation to Alaska.
There has been a long history of disputes over which country owns the islands, particularly Wrangell Island, which is about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. According to credible reports, Russia used it for a concentration camp until recently.
Alaska claims the islands on the basis of the original sale agreement for Alaska and other transactions. The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 and the sale included all Aleutian Islands, including Copper, Sea Otter Rock, and Sea Lion Rock. In 1881, U.S. Capt. Calvin L. Hooper landed on Wrangell Island and claimed it for the U.S.
Also in 1881, the U.S. Navy claimed the islands of Bennett, Jeannette, and Henrietta. The British held Herald Island, but they gave up that claim permitting the U.S. to take it. Russia's claim over the boundary may soon reach a court of law.
"Just last week we boarded a vessel that crossed the boundary -- and that's going to be disputed," said Coghill, referring to a Russian ship that was recently stopped in waters claimed by Alaska. The action may take the boundary dispute out of the hands of politicians and place it in the courts.
Have the islands been handed over to Russia yet by the U.S. government? "That's not an easy answer," said Coghill. "There has been an acquiescence to Russia, yes. There has been no extinquishment of any legitimate claim that we (Alaskans) might have. It has been blindly ignored by our Congress."
On June 1, 1990, then-Secretary of State James Baker signed a secret executive agreement with Eduard Shevardnadze, the former U.S.S.R. foreign minister. It specified that even though the treaty had not been ratified, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. agreed to abide by the terms of the treaty beginning June 15, 1990.
Coghill said the existence of the agreement, which is described in his resolution, is now well known by Alaskan and U.S. elected officials. At the time the treaty was presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, however, the existence of the secret agreement was not made known, he said. Although the Senate ratified the treaty and President George Bush signed it in 1991, the Soviet Union never ratified it, nor has Russia. Russians have always claimed they did not benefit enough from the boundaries offered in the treaty.
Wrangel Island belongs administratively to the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug of the Russian Federation.
According to some US individuals, including the group State Department Watch, eight Arctic islands currently controlled by Russia, including Wrangel Island, are claimed by the United States. However, according to the United States Department of State no such claim exists. The USSR/USA Maritime Boundary Treaty, which has yet to be approved by the Russian Duma, does not specifically address the status of these islands nor the maritime boundaries associated with them.
the Soviet Union never ratified it, nor has Russia. Russians have always claimed they did not benefit enough from the boundaries offered in the treaty.
Russian writings claim Russian knowledge of the island from the early 18th century. The Russian explorer Ferdinand P. Wrangel, for whom the island was later named, determined its location from accounts of Siberian natives but did not land there during his mapping of the Siberian coast in the early 1820s. Russian fur traders subsequently visited the island, and it was sighted by U.S. vessels in 1867 and 1881. Survivors of a sunken Canadian ship reached Wrangel in 1914, and the leader of the expedition, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, created an international incident in the early 1920s when he claimed Wrangel for Canada without authorization. The Soviet Union then annexed the island, and permanent occupation began with the landing of Chukchi and Russian families in 1926. Wrangel Island State Reserve, established in 1976, occupies 2,700 square miles (7,000 square km) and contains polar bears, walruses, and reindeer. The reserve was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.