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This Pic Supposedly Proves Russia Can Be Seen from Alaska. Here’s What We Found

Claim:

Russia is visible from the U.S., as evidenced in a photograph shared in February 2024 that allegedly shows Russian territory as seen from Alaska, just 2 miles away.

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Context:

Although Russia’s Big Diomede Island and Alaska’s Little Diomede Island are in fact about 2.5 miles apart and you can see one from the other, the viral photograph purporting to document that view was taken near Lorino, on Russia’s mainland, and does not show any American soil.

 

On Feb. 3, 2024, a photograph circulated on social media allegedly showing a view of Russia from Alaska. “Russia is 2 miles away from Alaska,” one post on Reddit captioned the image, while another post on X (formerly Twitter) claimed that “Russia is 55 miles away from Alaska.”

“Is it real?” one Reddit user asked. We found that the image was also shared on Instagram and featured in a BuzzFeed article.

In short, the photograph is authentic, but it does not show Russian territory visible from Alaska.

The photo was featured in a 2018 BBC article with the title “American lone sailor held in far east Russia near Alaska” and an article by TASS, a Russian press agency, with the credit of “Юрий Смитюк,” which translates to “Yuri Smityuk.” We found the photograph was captured by Russian photographer Yuri Smityuk. The caption to the image shared by IMAGO, a German photo agency, read (emphasis ours):

CHUKOTKA, RUSSIA – JUNE 24, 2018: Mechigmen Spit near the Lorino whaling settlement. There are 1200 people living in the village which is the centre of Russia s subsistence whaling and walrus hunting. Lorino maritime hunters have an annual catch limit of 60 gray whales and 1 bowhead whale.

Therefore, the photograph was not captured in Alaska, contrary to what some social media users claimed. However, it is true that Russia’s Big Diomede Island and Alaska’s Little Diomede Island are about 2.5 miles apart. (The Russian and Alaskan mainlands are approximately 55 miles apart at their closest points.)

(Google Maps)

Given that the so-called Yesterday and Tomorrow Islands are so close to each other, it is possible to see Russian territory from Alaska, as can be seen in the Getty Images photograph below:

(Getty Images)

For reference, here’s what the Diomede Islands look like from from above:

(Getty Images)

In January 2011, we investigated whether vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said, “I can see Russia from my house,” during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Sources:

Anchorage, Mailing Address: 605 West 4th Avenue Suite 105, and AK 99501 Phone: 907 644-3661 Contact Us. How Close Is Alaska to Russia? – Alaska Public Lands (U.S. National Park Service). https://www.nps.gov/anch/learn/historyculture/how-close-is-alaska-to-russia.htm. Accessed 7 Feb. 2024.

Diomede Islands | Bering Strait, Russia, & Alaska | Britannica. 18 Dec. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/place/Diomede-Islands.

Mikkelson, David. “Did Sarah Palin Say: ‘I Can See Russia from My House’?” Snopes, 29 Jan. 2011, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/sarah-palin-russia-house/.

Yesterday and Tomorrow Islands. 27 Jan. 2018, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/91638/yesterday-and-tomorrow-islands.

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