Russian State TV Pundit Suggests Annexing 3 US States

Source: Flickr/Ak Pk

Alaska, Hawaii, and California might seem like firmly established parts of the United States, but one Russian pundit has other ideas for the far-flung states. In a recent Russian state TV appearance, political scientist Sergey Mikheyev suggested Russia should expand its “empire” to include the three West Coast states along with parts of Europe.

Mikheyev’s expansionist vision lit up social media after Ukrainian politician Anton Gerashchenko shared the clip. While Mikheyev’s musings aren’t serious policy proposals, they offer insight into some Russians’ imperial ambitions and anti-Western attitudes.

Alaska: Once Russian, Always Russian?

Russia colonized Alaska before selling it to the U.S. in 1867, and officials often lament losing the territory. Lawmaker Sergei Mironov recently suggested the U.S. was weakening its control of Alaska, saying, “All that’s left is for Mexico to take back Texas and the rest of the territories.”  

Source: Unsplash/Alexis Mette

During a 2014 public forum, President Vladimir Putin said retaking Alaska wasn’t necessary but called the U.S. purchase “inexpensive.”

Hawaii: A New Pacific Prize

Mikheyev did not explain why Russia would want Hawaii, but its strategic location could allow Moscow to project power in the Pacific.

Source: Unsplash/Little Plant

Annexing Hawaii would deal a blow to U.S. security and prestige. However, Hawaii has strong cultural and political ties to the U.S., and Russia would face major challenges occupying and controlling the islands.

History of Russia’s Claim to Alaska

Russia had claimed Alaska since the early 1700s after explorers first landed on the Aleutian Islands. Russian fur traders soon established permanent settlements, exploiting the region’s natural resources.

Source: Robert W. Kelly

By the 1860s, Russia was eager to sell Alaska as the fur trade declined and the costs of defending it mounted.

Russia Regrets the Sale

Many Russians regretted selling Alaska cheaply. Alaska’s resources and strategic value became apparent over time.

Source: Facebook/Friends of Gamaliel Cemetery

Some Russian nationalists argue that the sale was illegal. As Russia’s power grew under Putin, voices calling to retake Alaska emerged.

Putin Plays Coy on Alaska

Putin has sent mixed signals on Alaska. In 2014, he dismissed retaking it, questioning why Russia would want it.

Source: Britannica

But in January 2022, Putin funded a program to document Russian properties abroad, including in the former territories of the Russian Empire.

Renewed Rhetoric About Retaking Alaska

Russia’s desire to reclaim the territory it once controlled has been a consistent theme in its political discourse. Russia’s irredentist ambitions, particularly regarding Alaska, continue to surface in its political discourse and state media.

Source: National Park Services

Although Putin has dismissed retaking Alaska, the notion still appeals to more hawkish elements that long for the restoration of Russian imperial glory.

Other Russian Figures Call for Annexation

Sergey Mikheyev isn’t the only prominent Russian pushing for the country to annex U.S. territory. Russian lawmaker Sergei Mironov has also made ominous allusions to Alaska in recent months.

Source: Dumatv

In a December 2021 post on social media, Mironov suggested that America’s global influence was waning and that it was only a matter of time before Mexico reclaimed Texas and other lands.

Geopolitical Significance of Alaska for Russia

Alaska holds tremendous geopolitical significance for Russia. As Anton Gerashchenko noted, many Russian propagandists and officials dream of reclaiming the territory.

Source: World Atlas

Alaska’s location along Russia’s eastern border makes it strategically valuable. Controlling Alaska would allow Russia to exert more influence over the North Pacific, as well as monitor U.S. naval forces.

Annexing U.S. States To Weaken the U.S.

The U.S. uses bases in Alaska for defense operations, and losing the state would cut off access to strategic ports and airfields. Russia could also gain control of military facilities and equipment left behind.

Source: Eve Baker

The blow to American prestige could further embolden Russia on the global stage. However, President Putin has downplayed the idea of retaking Alaska, urging Russians “not to get worked up about it.”

Could Russia Realistically Retake Alaska?

Retaking Alaska is unlikely to happen in reality. When the territory was sold to the US in 1867, Russia gained funds that were desperately needed at the time.

Source: Britannica

Some Russian politicians and media personalities may periodically bring up retaking Alaska to stoke nationalist sentiments, but the Kremlin understands it is not a realistic goal.

Legal Hurdles Preventing Russia From Taking Alaska

Numerous legal obstacles are preventing Russia from retaking Alaska. The sale was permanent, so Russia gave up all claims to the territory.

Source: Wikimedia/E.L. Bob Bartlett (1904-1968)

Alaska has been a US state since 1959, so its citizens are Americans. An invasion would violate international law and severely damage Russia’s standing in the global community.

Military Challenges Russia Faces If They Opt To Take Alaska

Militarily taking Alaska would be nearly impossible for Russia. The US has a far more advanced and powerful military, especially naval forces, which would be needed to capture an isolated place like Alaska.

Source: Department of Defense

The US could easily cut off Russia’s supply lines, leaving any occupying force stranded. Russia would face guerrilla warfare from Alaskans defending their homeland.

Economic Costs Involved In Russia Taking Alaska

The costs of mobilizing forces, transporting them across the Bering Strait, fighting US forces, and then controlling a vast, sparsely populated territory would strain Russia’s budget and economy.

Source: Wikimedia/Seaman Benjamin Nocerini

The sanctions that would inevitably follow would cripple Russia’s economy, which is already struggling due to low oil prices and economic mismanagement.

Annexing American States Are Empty Threats

While the bombastic claims from Russian pundits and lawmakers about annexing American states make headlines, the reality remains that these are empty threats meant more for domestic consumption than serious policy aims.

Source: picture alliance/Zoonar | gd ae ©

With the world on edge watching Putin’s next move in his imperialist ambitions, perhaps cooler heads in the Kremlin will prevail and tamp down this irresponsible nationalist chest-thumping before it further destabilizes the world order.

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Sally Reed

Written by Sally Reed

Sally, a dynamic and viral writer, has taken the literary world by storm with her exceptional storytelling prowess. With an uncanny ability to tap into the collective consciousness of her readers, she crafts narratives that resonate deeply and linger long after the last word is read.

Born with a creative spirit, Sally honed her writing skills from a young age, cultivating a unique voice that blends emotion, wit, and social insight. Her work spans a wide spectrum, from poignant short stories that tug at the heartstrings to thought-provoking essays that challenge conventional thinking.

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