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Russia says ‘can claim back Alaska’ in response to US seizure of assets

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the Russian State Duma

The chairman of the Russian State Duma says Russia can “claim back” Alaska if the United States continues to freeze Russian assets abroad, more than 150 years after the US purchased the exclave from Russia.

Vyacheslav Volodin said on Wednesday that when attempting to seize Russian assets, US officials should remember that Alaska is “a part of [Russian] territory” that Moscow can “claim back.”

“Let America always remember, there is a part of [Russian] territory: Alaska. So when they attempt to appropriate our assets abroad, they should be aware that we also have something to claim back,” the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament said during a meeting with lawmakers.

Russia colonized Alaska in the late 1700s and established several settlements there until the US purchased the territory on March 30, 1867 for the price of $7.2 million. The exclave did not officially become a US state until January 1959, the same year that Hawaii also gained statehood. The then-Secretary of State William H. Seward, who negotiated the so-called Alaska Purchase with Russia, was criticized over the deal, which was branded as a “folly.” However, the criticism eased three decades later when the Klondike Gold Rush occurred.

Alaska and Russia are 88 kilometers apart at their closest point, between Alaska’s Seward Peninsula and Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula.

“Decency is not a weakness. We always have something to respond with,” Volodin added, stressing that Russia did not interfere in America’s affairs but American politicians were blaming Russia for everything that is happening in the US.

Volodin is not the only Russian politician who has spoken of the prospect of Russia taking Alaska back from the US.

Back in March, Oleg Matveychev, a member of the Duma, told Russian state television that “after Ukraine’s demilitarization is completed,” Russia should get reparations from Europe and the US “from the damage that was caused by the sanctions and the war itself,” including through 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 Matveychev was asked by the host whether he meant Alaska and Fort Ross, California, the lawmaker nodded and said, “That was my next point. As well as the Antarctic. We discovered it, so it belongs to us.”

Since the onset of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, the US and its European allies have unleashed a flood of advanced weapons into Ukraine and imposed waves of unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.

Russia says the weapons supplies and the sanctions would only prolong the ongoing war.

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