No, Putin has not declared the purchase of Alaska to be illegal

By: Christian Haag
January 26 2024

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No, Putin has not declared the purchase of Alaska to be illegal

Source: Russian Government Publications/Order of the President of the Russian Federation dated January 18, 2024 No. 21-rp/Screenshot by Logically Facts


The Verdict False

The decree contains no mention of Alaska or other territories. It refers to real estate.

Claim ID 6e41c57d


A document has circulated online that has been used to claim Putin signed an order on January 18, making the Alaska purchase of 1867 illegal. The claim gained traction on social media after a popular Russian military blogger shared the decree.


The decree being shared online is interpreted as Russia declaring the sale of Alaska illegitimate. 
(Source: Russian Government Publications/Order of the President of the Russian Federation dated January 18, 2024 No. 21-rp/Screenshot by Logically Facts)

It subsequently went viral on X (formerly Twitter), as seen here and here. A search for “Putin decree Alaska” on TikTok yields several results, with some videos reaching 500,000 and over 1 million views. Many of the videos claim that the purchase was illegal or that Putin claims “Alaska belongs to Russia.” This has also been repeated in the British tabloid The Express.

Example of result from search query “Putin decree Alaska” on TikTok January 26, 2024. (Source: TikTok/Screenshot/Edited by Logically Facts)

Alaska was sold to the U.S. in 1867 for $7.2 million after several attempts from the Russian Empire. The cost of retaining the territory had become to high, and supplying the territory held heavy logistical difficulties.

The claim is false, and the document has been misinterpreted. 

In fact

Logically Facts translated the text and found no mention of Alaska or any specific territories. Instead, the decree refers to real estate in territories formerly owned by the USSR or the Russian Empire and orders the allocation of funds to search, register, and protect such real estate.

Logically Facts contacted Flemming Splidsboel Hansen at the Danish Institute for International Studies to provide more context on the decree, who said, “The decree is disturbing. It orders Russian officials and agencies to search for Russian property abroad – this includes Soviet and Imperial Russian property.” He continued, stating that he does “not see this decree raising questions about territory. I believe that it is about property – buildings, perhaps memorials, and so on. It may be used by the Russian authorities in different ways to stir up conflict and possibly to mobilize parts of the local populations.” 

Fleming cites the possible demolition of WWII memorials in Latvia, where Russian authorities claim that this is former Soviet property, and thus current Russian property. However, he concludes that “the decree is directed mostly at buildings.” 

The Institute for War also commented on the decree in their January 19 assessment, writing that it refers to property, but that the Kremlin can use “the ‘protection’ of its claimed property in countries outside of its internationally recognized borders to forward soft power mechanisms in post-Soviet and neighboring states ultimately aimed at internal destabilization.” 

In summary, the document could be used for ill intent by the Russian state for soft power projections, but this regards real estate, buildings, and monuments, not actual territories such as Alaska or Finland.

This claim has also been fact-checked by Snopes, reaching the same conclusion.

Russian claims on Alaska

Politicians and others have previously argued for Alaska to be returned to Russia. In December 2023, High North News reported that Russian politician Sergei Mironov suggested that Russia should take back Alaska from a weak United States. Russian nationalists have also voiced the idea, and in 2014, a White House petition called “Alaska back to Russia” went viral, receiving almost 100,000 signatures.

The verdict

Considering that the document contains no mention of territories but refers to real estate, we have marked this claim as false. 

Translations by Iryna Hnatiuk

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