A Russian lawmaker threatened this week that Russia could reclaim Alaska from the U.S. if the U.S. continues to impose sanctions and seize assets from Russians.
Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the Russian State Duma — the lower house of Russia’s parliament — spoke on Wednesday before the Russian parliament’s summer recess. During his speech, Volodin appeared to threaten a response to U.S. sanctions efforts and asset seizures, which have taken control of the bank assets, yachts, private planes and luxury apartments of wealthy Russian businessmen abroad.
“Decency is not a weakness we always have,” Volodin said. “To answer America, let it always remember there’s a piece of territory, Alaska. When they try to manage our resources abroad, let them think before they act that we, too, have something to take back.”
According to the Moscow Times, Volodin also noted deputy State Duma Chairman Pyotr Tolstoy had proposed holding a referendum among Alaskans to consider joining Russia.
“We don’t interfere in their domestic affairs,” Volodin responded, reportedly holding back laughter as he addressed fellow lawmakers.
Russian settlers, and particularly fur traders, first began to arrive in Alaska in the 1700s. The then-Russian Empire under Tsar Alexander II facilitated the sale of Russia’s Alaskan territorial holdings to the U.S. through the Alaska Purchase of 1867. The Alaskan territory was purchased for about $7.2 million in 1867, a value of about $140 million today.
Volodin is not the first Russian official to suggest the modern Russian government could retake Alaska after it was sold to the U.S. by the Russian Empire, which ended in 1917 after Russia’s communist revolution.
In March, Russian lawmaker Oleg Matveychev called for “The return of all Russian properties, those of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and current Russia, which has been seized in the United States, and so on.”
When asked if he was specifically referring to Alaska and the former Russian settlement at Fort Ross, California, Matveychev said they both “belong to [Russia].”
While the U.S. has no plans of turning over Alaska to Russia, Volodin’s remarks appear to be part of a larger trend of Russian recriminations as the U.S. and other western nations have proposed war crimes trials for Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
On the same day Volodin commented about Russia taking back Alaska, the Associated Press reported former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev suggested the U.S. could also be forced to answer for its past actions.
Medvedev, who now serves as the Deputy Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said on Wednesday, “The entire U.S. history since the times of subjugation of the native Indian population represents a series of bloody wars.
“Was anyone held responsible for those crimes? What tribunal condemned the sea of blood spilled by the U.S. there?” Medvedev continued.