The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

2016 Edition
| Editors: Igor S. Zonn, Andrey G. Kostianoy, Aleksandr V. Semenov

USA/USSR Maritime Boundary Agreement as of June 1, 1990

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24237-8_540
USA/USSR Maritime Boundary Agreement as of June 1, 1990 – was signed in Washington, United States, between the USSR and the United States. The Agreement on maritime boundaries in the Bering Strait envisages concessions of territory on the part of the USSR. The Agreement says that “the line described as the ‘Western boundary’ in Article 1 of the 1867 Convention … (meaning the Agreement on Sale of Russian Alaska to the United States) is the line of demarcation of maritime space” between the USSR and the United States. The Agreement elaborated on this line and, besides, introduced notions of “Eastern special region” and “Western special region.” The US Congress ratified this Agreement in 1991. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR refused to ratify the document on the territorial concession to the United States. Having made sure that Moscow would not be forced into ratification, heads of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs E. Shevardnadze and the US Secretary of State J. Baker, in breach of the accepted norms, changed notes on temporary character of the Agreement. In February 1997 the State Duma of the Russian Federation waived a draft law on ratification of this Agreement, having acknowledged it as defective, as this Agreement transfers 70 % of the Bering Sea to the jurisdiction of the United States, which is 13,200 square miles more than if the line would have been drawn on an equal distance from the coasts. Russian adversaries of ratification reason that if this paper had entered into force, Russia would have lost 55,000 km2 of continental shelf in the open part of the Bering Sea, rich, under estimates of geologists, in oil and gas (the Norton and Navarinskiy basins), and Russian fishery would suffer loss. Protagonists of ratification prove that demarcation of 1990 matches with the boundary set forth by the 1867 Agreement, including as it was mapped in the Soviet times. Refusal of the Russian Federation to ratify the 1990 Agreement allows its opponents to claim reconsideration of Russian-American agreement on the grounds that the United States “concessed” to Russia the “Arctic Empire,” including the Wrangel Island and a group of minor islands in the Arctic Ocean, discovered by Americans in 1881. After the ratification of the Agreement, the American party deems it valid and persecutes Russian vessels for breaching the boundaries outlined in it. Yearly loss of the Far East fishermen amounts to 200,000 tons of fish or 200 million dollars.

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