Saturday, March 16, 2019

Russian Foreign Ministry Refuses to Be Drawn on Supposed Alaskan Claims to Island Near Kamchatka

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 16 – The Russian foreign ministry typically becomes almost hysterical when anyone suggests that some portion of Russian-controlled territory actually belongs to another country, but exceptionally, the ministry has refused to get exercised about supposed claims by the US State of Alaska to an island near Kamchatka.

            Instead, in response to a query from Kamchatka journalists about reports that some Alaskan sources are insisting that the uninhabited island of Medny is in fact part of that state, the Russian foreign ministry said that it would not take notice of any Alaskan claims because Moscow has an agreement with Washington on the sea border and Medny is in the Russian zone (

            This measured response may simply be Moscow’s way of turning aside any claims by any Americans other than the central government; but it could signal Moscow doesn’t want to exacerbate relations with Washington further. Had the foreign ministry responded as one might have expected, the opposite would certainly have appeared the case. 

            Last December, Kamchatka news agencies reported, some Internet portals in Alaska said that some in the US State of Alaska feel that Washington made too many concessions to Russia over the sea border between them in the 1990 accord and that the island of Medny should be Alaskan and thus American (

            These claims appeared to have weight because in 1999 the state legislature adopted a resolution expressing its doubts about the accord between the US and Russia on the sea border, an accord which gave Russia control over Wrangel, Herald, Bennet, Henrietta, Sivuch, Kalan, and Medny islands.

            One Kamchatka agency asked the foreign ministry for its reaction, and now, two months later, it has received an answer: Russia doesn’t interact with or take note of the actions of individual American states but only with the US government in Washington and that government agreed on June 1, 1990, to a line which puts Medny firmly inside the Russian zone.

            The island is the easternmost of the Komandor islands and is administratively part of Russia’s Kamchatka kray.

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