Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has responded to allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin who have argued that Russia could retake his state, and appeared to mock the idea.
Dunleavy, a Republican, wrote a simple response to the Russian claims on Twitter on Thursday: “To the Russian politicians who believe they can take back Alaska: Good luck.”
The governor shared an article from The Washington Examiner about comments made by Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, and a close ally of Putin.
During a parliamentary session on Wednesday, Volodin said: “Let America always remember, there is a part of [Russian] territory: Alaska.”
“So when [U.S. lawmakers] attempt to appropriate our assets abroad, they should be aware that we also have something to claim back,” Volodin said.
His comments come amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies on Putin’s government.
The Department of Justice has said $30 billion in Russian oligarchs’ assets has been frozen, and $300 billion in Russian central bank funds.
Pyotr Tolstoy, the deputy speaker of the State Duma, which is Russia’s lower house of parliament, has also suggested holding a referendum among Alaskans about the possibility of rejoining Russia.
Given Governor Dunleavy’s reaction to Russian rhetoric, it seems unlikely Alaskans would opt to return to rule from Moscow.
Alaska was a territory of the Russian empire in the late 18th and 19th centuries but was purchased by the U.S. in 1867 for $7.2 million. Russia has never formally asserted a territorial claim to Alaska since the sale, and despite recent remarks by Russian politicians, the ownership of Alaska is not officially disputed.
Comments about retaking Alaska have become more common since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and strong U.S. opposition to Putin’s government.
Billboards declaring “Alaska Is Ours!” recently appeared in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk following Volodin’s remarks on Wednesday. They were erected by a Krasnoyarsk-based company called ‘Alaska,’ which manufactures trailers.
A company spokesperson said the firm’s director is “very patriotic” and had “decided to show that we are for patriotism” through the billboards.
In March, Russian Duma member Oleg Matveychev told state TV that his country should consider seeking reparations from the U.S. for lost territories, including Alaska and a former Russian settlement in California, or even take those territories back.
Dunleavy responded to Matveychev’s comments at the time, tweeting: “Good luck with that! Not if we have something to say about it. We have hundreds of thousands of armed Alaskans and military members that will see it differently.”