A billboard reading “Alaska is Ours” spotted in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk has caused outrage on social media.
Online users claimed that the message was another threat of invasion by the Russian government, amid the war in Ukraine. Euronews has fact-checked these claims.
The image of the banner in Krasnoyarsk was first shared on the popular messaging platform Telegram. The man who first posted the photo claims he has seen many billboards like these around the city in Siberia.
There is no information on Krasnoyarsk's government websites or channels about these banners.
The city administration told Russian state media that this advertisement was a "private initiative" and has nothing to do with official government policy.
One of the clues as to who is behind these billboards is the image of mountains, featured next to the map of Russia.
The same exact picture can be traced to the logo of a company called 'Alaska,' which sells trailers in Krasnoyarsk. Russian media have reported that these banners are actually advertisements that the company had paid for and produced.
Euronews has contacted the company for a statement but has yet to receive a response. A representative has told Russian media that "It's just that our director is very patriotic. Thus, we decided to show that we are for patriotism, for import substitution."
This controversial banner seems to be a patriotic move in support of the Duma speaker’s comments, rather than any wider Russian government initiative.
The advertisement comes after the Russian parliament spokesperson, Vyacheslav Volodin -- an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin -- suggested Moscow could "take back" Alaska in retaliation for the economic sanctions from the West.
Volodin said that the US "should remember that Alaska was Russian".
The Russian State Parliament vice-speaker even reportedly proposed holding a "referendum" for Alaskans to vote in favour of joining Russia.
The subject has been met with disdain from US officials. The governor of Alaska, Mike Dunleavy, reacted on Twitter by stating "to the Russian politicians who believe they can take back Alaska: Good luck."
The Russian Empire was the first to actively colonise Alaska at the start of the 18th century, before eventually selling it to the United States for $7.2 million -- today worth around €142 million.