“To Russian politicians who believe they can take back Alaska: good luck.” Here is the answer of the governor of the American State Mike Dunleavy Thursday, July 7 to Vyacheslav Volodin. The day before, the president of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, had warned Washington about this territory, previously Russian property.
During a parliamentary session in Moscow on Wednesday, he had indeed invited the United States to think twice before seizing or freezing Russian assets abroad, reminding the United States that Alaska once belonged to Russia and that the Kremlin may want the land back.
“Let America always remember that there is a part of the [Russian] territory: Alaska,” Vyacheslav Volodin said, “So when [US lawmakers] try to take our assets abroad , they should know that we also have something to claim,” he claimed, as reported by Newsweek. As the Washington Examiner points out, Piotr Tolstoy, the vice-president of the State Duma, has also launched his own threat, proposing that Russia organize a “referendum” in Alaska.
Alaska is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, an earthquake-prone zone that stretches from the Gulf of Alaska to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. At the level of the Bering Strait, this territory is separated by only a little less than five kilometers from Russia. The first permanent Russian settlement was established in Alaska in 1784 as Three Saints Bay. It was here that the Russian-American Company was born, a trading monopoly chartered by Tsar Paul I in 1799 that led the expansion of the Russian Empire in North America. Russia proceeded to establish several colonies in Alaska until it was purchased by the US government for a price of $7.2 million in March 1867 – approximately $144.4 million in 2021 -, under the chairmanship of Andrew Johnson.
In March 2022, Oleg Matveychev, a member of the Duma and “spin doctor” of Vladimir Putin, had demanded from the United States “the return of all Russian properties, those of the Russian Empire, of the Soviet Union and present-day Russia”. “We should think about reparations for the damage caused by the sanctions and the war itself, because it costs money and we should get it back,” he said, as reported by the Daily Mail.
In addition to Alaska, he referred to Antarctica – “we discovered it, so it belongs to us” – but also to a small part of California, which itself was briefly Russian during the 18th century. : Fort Ross. This former Russian settlement is located on the west coast in what is now Sonoma County, California. The Russian-American company built Fort Ross, less than three hours from present-day San Francisco, in 1812. This former trading outpost is now a California State Historic Park after being sold to private individuals in 1841.
Also, in 1815 and 1816, the Russian-American Company entered into an agreement with the Kingdom of Hawaii to open three short-lived outposts on its islands. The Russians were expelled from Hawaii in 1817 after locals revolted against them for building a fort and raising a Russian flag in their territory.
On Thursday, Vladimir Putin challenged Westerners to defeat Russia “on the battlefield” in Ukraine. “Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can I say? Let them try!” the Russian president said during a meeting with the leaders of the groups in the lower house of parliament. , broadcast on television. “Everyone should know that we have not yet started serious things” in Ukraine, launched Vladimir Putin during this speech, one of the toughest in weeks.
These martial declarations come as the United States and European countries have in recent weeks accelerated arms deliveries to the kyiv army, which is trying to curb the advance of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.