By Miranda Nazzaro,
Putin signed a new decree last week to allocate funds for the research and registration of Russian property overseas, including that in former territories of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, Russian state media TASS reported .
The decree, which comes amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, did not specifically mention Alaska, though it caught the attention of military bloggers, who argued Putin was using the decree to declare the 1867 Russian sale of the Last Frontier State to the U.S. is illegal.
“Well, I think I can speak for all of us in the U.S. government to say that certainly he’s not getting it back,” State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a Monday press briefing , prompting laughter from his audience.
The Institute for the Study of War last week noted the “exact parameters of what constitutes current or historical Russia property are unclear.”
“The Kremlin may use the ‘protection’ of its claimed property in countries outside of its internationally recognized borders to forward soft power mechanisms in post-Soviet and neighboring states ultimately aimed at internal destabilization,” the institute wrote in an assessment of the Russian offensive campaign.
It pointed to a Telegram post from a military blogger who suggested Russia could start enacting the law in Alaska and parts of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Putin, in a 2014 question-and-answer with a studio audience, called the 1867 sale “inexpensive,” and argued people should “not get worked about it.”
“We can calculate the equivalent amount, but it was definitely inexpensive. Russia is a northern country with 70 percent of its territory located in the north and the far north. Alaska is not located in the southern hemisphere, either, is it? It’s cold out there as well. Let’s not get worked up about it, all right?” he said.
While Putin appeared to downplay the sale, Russian lawmaker Sergei Mironov in December hinted at Moscow reclaiming its previous territories in the future.
“Did you want a new world order? Receive and sign. Venezuela annexed a 24th state, Guyana-Essequibo. This is happening right under the nose of the once great hegemon of the United States. All that remains is for Mexico to return Texas and the rest. It’s time for Americans to think about their future. And also about Alaska,” Mironov wrote on X , formerly Twitter, last month.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev joked about the State Department’s response later Monday, writing on X , “According to a State Department representative, Russia is not getting back Alaska, which was sold to the U.S. in the 19th century. This is it, then. And we’ve been waiting for it to be returned any day. Now war is unavoidable,” with a laughing emoji attached.