US Laughs Off Putin Alaska Reports: ‘He’s Not Getting It Back’

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The U.S. State Department has dismissed reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revanchism may extend as far as Alaska after the Kremlin issued a new decree regarding historic Russian real estate holdings abroad.

“I speak for all of us in the U.S. government to say that certainly, he is not getting it back,” State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said to laughter during a press briefing on Monday when asked about Moscow’s purported claim on Alaska.

Putin last week signed a new measure directing and funding the presidential administration and the Foreign Ministry in “searching for real estate in the Russian Federation, the former Russian Empire, the former USSR, proper registration of rights…and legal protection of this property.”

The scope and intention of the measure is not clear. Newyork Verified reached out to the Kremlin by email for comment.

Ultranationalist bloggers seized on the vaguely worded document to call for fresh Russian aggression against countries that now control once-Russian land, among them the United States, NATO states in eastern and central Europe, and several Central Asian nations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at an awards ceremony on January 16, 2024, in Odintsovo. Putin ordered authorities to collect information on Russian assets abroad.
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Pro-Ukrainian social media accounts, meanwhile, incorrectly claimed that Putin had used the decree to declare the 1867 Russian sale of Alaska to the U.S. as illegal or illegitimate.

Newyork Verified reached out to the State Department and the White House by email to request comment on Putin’s decree.

The Russian president has previously said his compatriots should “not get worked up” about the “inexpensive” deal, though allies of his have also suggested that Moscow may re-open the issue as a territorial dispute.

Dmitry Medvedev—a former Russian president and prime minister who was once considered a potential successor to Putin before being sidelined—also joked about Moscow’s purported claim on Alaska in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“This is it, then,” wrote Medvedev, who was once considered a technocratic, liberal counterweight to Putin but has sought to reinvent himself as an ultra-hawkish supporter of the war on Ukraine. “We’ve been waiting for it to be returned any day. Now war is unavoidable,” Medvedev added, ending his post with a laughing emoji.

Revanchism is at the core of Putin’s neo-tsarist Russian state and one of the driving forces behind Moscow’s repeated aggression against Ukraine over the past decade, whether in Crimea, in the eastern Donbas region in 2014, or his claimed annexation of much of southern and eastern Ukraine in 2022.

In 2021, Putin published a long essay declaring that Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians are all effectively one people and dismissing the concept of an independent Ukrainian nation.

“Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia,” Putin wrote, while Russian forces began a major buildup along Ukrainian frontiers.

“Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of ‘Ukraine is not Russia’ was no longer an option. There was a need for the ‘anti-Russia’ concept which we will never accept,” he said.