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Vitus Bering was a navigator and an explorer who was working for the Russian Navy. In 1724, he was appointed to explore the territory between Asia and North America, and to determine whether the continents were connected by land. The Russians wished to find a northeast passage to North America. Bering was the first European to thoroughly explore the region and in 1728, he navigated the sea between the two land masses. His explorations paved the way for Russian involvement in North America.