MOSCOW, April 17 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin jokingly said during a Q&A on RT that Russia would not annex the U.S. state of Alaska because it's too cold.
"We are a northern country. Seventy percent of our territory is in the north and high north. Alaska -- is it in the south? It's quite cold up there. Let's not be overenthusiastic about it because if we have our people there, employers would have to pay them extra because they live in the north," said Putin with a tone of sarcasm.
Russia sold the region to the U.S. in 1867 and it officially became a state in 1959. Even though Putin may have been joking, there are Russians who would like to reclaim the former colony or at least parts of it.
Putin was not joking when he said during the same Q&A that he has been given authorization to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine and is willing to do so. Representatives from the U.S. EU, Ukraine, and Russia are in Geneva trying to find a diplomatic solution to deescalate the the tensions in eastern Ukraine.