A Russian politician and close confidante of Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Moscow should consider taking back Alaska from "a weakened USA."
Russian politician Sergei Mironov said on the social media platform X last week that Venezuela's threat to seize a region of Guyana signals a "new world order," which could lead to future annexations by neighbors of U.S. territory that have faced their own historic disputes.
The comments from Mironov follow an attempted land grab of Essequibo by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Mironov is the leader of the A Just Russia faction that forms the country's systemic opposition, generally sympathetic to Vladimir Putin's foreign policy.
By the sound of it, Sergei Mironov believes it is time for Russia to claim its rights to Alaska:
"Did you want a new world order? Receive it and sign it. Venezuela is annexing its 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 is time for Americans to think about their future. And also about Alaska."
"Sergei Mironov, the Russian politician, believes it is time for Russia to claim its rights to Alaska," wrote Ukraine's interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko on X shortly after.
Sold to the USA
Alaska was sold to the United States for $7.2 million in 1867 after the Russian Empire gave up its campaigns to colonize the area after a century.
At their closest point, Alaska and Russia are only about 53 miles apart, separated by the waters of the Bering Strait.
Such comments by Russian politicians about retaking the state of Alaska have become more common since Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Why do you need Alaska?
In 2014, Putin commented on the same topic when asked about reclaiming land that used to be a part of Russia.
"Why do you need Alaska?" Putin said during a 2014 Q&A panel, according to The Hill.
"By the way, Alaska was sold sometime in the 19th century. Louisiana was sold to the United States by the French at about the same time. Thousands of square kilometers were sold for $7.2 million, although in gold."
The Russian president went on to call the purchase of Alaska an "inexpensive" one and urged his constituents to "not get worked up about" it.
Russian state-TV host Kirill Kleymenov told Putin the state is jokingly referred to as "Ice Crimea."
There were also a WhiteHouse.gov petition called “Alaska back to Russia” that earned more than 42,000 signatures and was widely covered in Russian media in 2014, before being removed.
Alaska - Russian Facts
The Russian colonization of North America covers the period from 1732 to 1867.
The Russians were primarily interested in the abundance of fur-bearing mammals on Alaska's coast.
Alaska and Russia share a border. The U.S.-Russian maritime boundary zigzags down the Bering Strait between the Asian and American land masses.
Alaska and Russia are less than 3 miles apart at their closest point in the Bering Strait, where two islands, Russia's Big Diomede Island and Alaska's Little Diomede Island, are located. In winter, walking across the frozen Bering Strait border between these two islands is possible. At its closest, the American and Russian mainland are 55 miles apart, where Alaska's Seward Peninsula and Russia's Chukotka Peninsula reach out to each other.
Russia governed Alaska as a colony for almost as long as the United States has now governed Alaska as a territory and state.
Alaska has two official state holidays: Seward's Day, the last Monday in March, commemorates the 1867 signing of the treaty in which U.S. Secretary of State William Seward agreed to purchase Alaska from the czar; and Alaska Day, Oct. 18, which marks the formal transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States in the Russian capital of Sitka.
Alaska has many historic Russian buildings. There are active Russian Orthodox Churches in some 80 Alaska communities, many of which still use the old-style Russian Orthodox calendar and celebrate Christmas on what is marked as Jan. 7 in Western calendars.
Many of Alaska's native peoples who lived in the regions colonized by Russia have Russian surnames, stemming from the days when they were colonial subjects of the czar and many intermarried. Russian names mark Alaska's geographical landscape.
Except during the Cold War, Alaskan and Russian natives on either side of the Bering Strait carried on with routine visits, seasonal festivals, and subsistence trade.
During the Cold War, Alaskans referred to the closed border between Russia and Alaska as the "Ice Curtain." Their goal: to melt the Ice Curtain.
The University of Alaska has more Russian students at its campuses than any other university in the United States.