Russian lawmaker suggests taking over California’s Fort Ross in Sonoma County amid US sanctions

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) — Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine highlights a portion of the Bay Area once settled and occupied by Russian settlers in the 1880s.

Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast is now a California state park, but US sanctions tensions are prompting some Russian lawmakers to reclaim the fort.

Fort Ross is an amazing place on 3,000 acres. There are stunning views of the Pacific just off Highway 1.

And then there’s the rich history, reminding visitors that there was a lot going on in Northern California before the Gold Rush.

EXCLUSIVE: Bay Area Red Cross volunteer helps Ukrainian refugees on frontline of war

Most people don’t even know there were Russians in California in the 19th century,” said Fort Ross Conservancy CEO Sarah Sweedler.

“The Russian River, they named it for a reason,” said Rick Gonzalez of Sacramento.

Russian traders settled in Fort Ross in 1812. Their influence is everywhere, from the architecture of the chapel to the flag and the interactive field trips for school children where everyone plays a part, even the teachers.

“I play the commander of Fort Ross, he was in charge of running this outpost colony,” said San Francisco teacher Christine Armstrong.

The Russians stayed for 30 years, selling the fort to gold rush magnate John Sutter in 1841. Now some Russian lawmakers want it back.

VIDEO: As millions of women and children flee Ukraine, human traffickers target the most vulnerable refugees

Last week, a high-ranking member of the Russian parliament suggested that his country reclaim US territories like Fort Ross as a reward for US sanctions.

This prompted a quick response from Sweedler.

“It reminded me that America doesn’t have a monopoly on crazy politicians. It’s not even worth talking about details, it’s just noise,” she said.

Visitors had their own opinion.

“It’s on American soil, so come get it, good luck,” Gonzalez said.

TAKE ACTION: Local and national support for Ukrainians

“It’s like saying let’s get Alaska, they sold it to us, it’s ours now, sorry,” Armstrong added.

Fort Ross became a state park in 1906. It has hosted Russian festivals and a meeting with former Governor Jerry Brown and the Russian Ambassador in 2018.

The conservation says that in recent years less than 10% of donations have come from Russian companies. But because of the sanctions, they no longer work with these companies. Fort Ross remains part of California.

“Unless the skins industry comes back, there’s no reason for Russia to take back Fort Ross,” Napa’s Chad McComber said.

Take a look at the latest updates on the Ukraine-Russia war.

  • LIST: Apple, Ikea, Ford withdraw from Russia
  • Who is Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky? Before the 2019 election, the former comedian played the president on TV
  • Why is Russia attacking Ukraine? Stanford expert answers Google’s top questions
  • Activist interrupts live broadcast of Russian state news with placard protesting war in Ukraine
  • How to help Ukrainians in the face of Russian attacks
  • How to talk to your kids about Ukraine, according to psychologists
  • Pregnant woman pictured on stretcher, baby dies after Russian maternity hospital bombing
  • EXCLUSIVE: Ukrainian helping refugees says Russian missiles were only miles from NATO base
  • SF chief prepares support for Ukraine, 6,200 miles from home
  • Why are US gas prices skyrocketing when America barely uses Russian oil?
  • PHOTOS: Ukrainian refugees leave behind their homes, but not their pets
  • Russia threatens to abandon US astronaut in space as sanctions threaten peace aboard ISS
  • Local and national support for people in Ukraine
  • Ukrainian grandmother tells her grandson she’s ‘ready to fight’ as Russian forces close in on kyiv
  • Bay Area nonprofit tries to rescue volunteers and dogs stranded in Ukraine
  • Where is Ukraine? A brief overview of one of the largest and poorest countries in Europe
  • Stoli Vodka, Smirnoff – neither made in Russia – get dumped as states boycott

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All rights reserved.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button