It seems that Russia and the United States are at a huge distance from each other, in part, this is the case, if you measure the distance between the capitals of states. In this case, the distance from Moscow to Washington in a straight line will be as much as 7, 800 km. But the distance between two neighboring islands, one of which belongs to Russia and the other to the United States, is only 3 kilometers 760 meters. We are talking about the Russian island of Ratmanov and the island of Kruzenstern, which already belongs to the United States. They are located in the Bering Strait.
Ratmanov Island belongs to the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. In 1655, these places were visited by the expedition of Ataman Semyon Dezhnev. This was the first visit of Europeans to this island, about which Dezhnev's written report has survived. In the 18th century, when the navigator Vitus Bering visited the island, there were two Eskimo settlements on Imaklik Island, as it was called at that time, in which about 400 people lived.
The island received its modern name at the beginning of the 19th century in honor of the Russian naval officer Makar Ivanovich Ratmanov. Currently, there is no permanent population on the island, only the Russian border base is located here.
Kruzenshtern Island also became famous in Europe thanks to Semyon Dezhnev, who visited here in 1648. Currently, there is a small town of Diomede, whose population is only 135 people, most of whom belong to the Inupik people - the indigenous inhabitants of Alaska. There is a shop and a school here.
In 1867, when Alaska and the Aleutian Islands were sold to America, the border of the Russian Empire and the United States passed halfway between the two islands. Residents of neighboring states could see each other even without the aid of binoculars.
Back in the late 19th century, the governments of Russia and the United States were discussing a project to build a tunnel that would connect the two states. More than a hundred years have passed, but the plans have not been implemented for various reasons: political, financial, technical.
Despite the fact that the islands are at a distance of visibility from each other, the time difference between them is 21 hours, and from March to November, when the US switches to daylight saving time, it is 20 hours. The date line runs here. On the American island the day ends, and on the Russian one it begins.
During the First World War, the Americans took advantage of the fact that the northeastern borders of Russia were poorly guarded, they founded their settlement on Ratmanov Island. The "guests" were evicted from our territory only in 1925, when the Soviet border ship "Vorovsky" arrived on the island.
In 1989, an agreement was reached between the USSR and the United States that residents of neighboring islands can visit each other without a visa. True, by that time, almost the entire population of Ratmanov Island had moved to the mainland.
In 2005, a seven-meter Orthodox cross was erected on the highest hill of Ratmanov Island. And in 2016, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited here.