Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin Reuters

Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin has argued that Moscow has a right to get back Alaska from the United States 147 years after it sold "Russian America" to Washington.

In a foreword to the revisionist book Alaska Betrayed and Sold: The History of a Palace Conspiracy by Ivan Mironov, Rogozin acknowledges the historical right of Russia for "the return of lost colonies", the Moscow Times reports.

Supporting the author's view that the Alaska sale was a betrayal of Russia's power status, Rogozin argues that the transfer of Russian America was marred by "outright lies and falsifications".

"Russia giving up its colonial possessions makes it necessary to look in a different way at our diplomacy in the era of Gorbachev and Yeltsin, trading away pieces of the Soviet Empire," he wrote.

The Russian empire offered to sell Alaska to the US a first time in 1859 but it was not until 30 March 1867 that secretary of state William Seward agreed to a proposal of $7.2m (£4.5m). President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty on 28 May and it was transferred on 18 October of the same year. Critics called the move "Seward's Folly", but were silenced after a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon in 1896. It became a state in 1959.

Rogozin's remarks about the historical right of Russia to take Alaska back are especially sinister because they echo similar comments by Putin in the wake of Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. In a referendum that the US and the EU said violated the Ukrainian constitution and international law, 97% of voters in Crimea, part of Russia until 1954, voted for secession from Ukraine.

In a special address to a joint session of the Russian parliament that gathered to accept the Republic of Crimea as part of the Russian Federation, Putin said that Crimea "has always been an inalienable part of Russia". The Black Sea peninsula was "saturated with our common history", he added.

He said that Russia was "robbed of Crimea", which was handed over "like a sack of potatoes" after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

"Millions of Russians went to sleep in one country, and woke up in another," Putin said. "What seemed incredible became a reality - the USSR fell apart."

Putin has repeatedly stated his intention to protect ethnic Russians living in Ukrainian regions due to the strong cultural connection between them and "Mother Russia". In August he referred to the restive eastern regions of Ukraine as "Novorossiya" or New Russia.

Approximately 21% of Ukraine's population is Russian and it has deep cultural and historical links with Russia. The Russian ambassador to Ukraine has even stated that "Ukrainians and Russians are a single nation."

Since he was reelected president in 2012, Putin has appealed to the traditional nationalist and religious base of his electorate, calling for a return for Russia among the superpowers.