Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, October 27, 2014

Putin Pushes the Envelope

While the world was distracted by Russia’s incursions into Eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quietly making a provocative move that could lead to a direct confrontation with the United States. The Russian Navy sent a ship to plant a flag on remote Wrangel Island, about 300 miles northwest of Point Hope, Alaska. They announced plans to build a base there for Russia’s Pacific fleet. The island has little economic value in itself, but it’s hugely important because it’s the closest land to a large part of the Arctic Ocean that is estimated to hold 25 percent of the world’s recoverable oil and gas. According to a European reporter, Putin said he wants to expand Russia’s presence in the Arctic, both militarily and economically.

Now this isn’t the first time Russia has tried to claim territory in the Arctic. Russia claims that its recent flag-planting on Wrangel Island was 90 years to the day from when Russians planted a Soviet flag there back in 1924. But, brave American explorers had already reached Wrangel on August 12, 1881 and claimed that island for the United States 43 years earlier. Even though Russia’s claim to Wrangel Island only dates to 1924 while America’s claim dates to 1881, the U. S. government has shamefully failed to assert and defend our prior claim against Russia’s more recent one. Indeed, our State Department on several occasions tried to surrender America’s claim to this important outpost. In the 1970s, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger tried to negotiate an agreement giving away Wrangel Island to the Soviet Union. In 1990, Secretary of State James Baker tried to deal with Gorbachev to give the island to the collapsing Soviet Union, but all those attempts have fallen through.

In light of Russia’s chronic misbehavior on the world stage, let’s correct a historical blunder by reviving America’s historic claim to Wrangel Island, and extend our jurisdiction over the riches of the Arctic Ocean.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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