PAT NEAL: The Russians (still) aren’t coming

It was another tough week in the news. All of the rabid chickens came home to roost.

The idle speculation put forth in this column may have created an international incident.

You never know where this thing goes, but it seemed to resonate with some nut named Oleg Matveychev, who serves in Russia’s excuse for a parliament.

Matveychev opined that Russia might enlarge the scope of its megalomaniacal impulses to restore not only the territories of the former Soviet Union like Ukraine, but the lost colonies of its Tsarist regime, namely Alaska and a chunk of California.

The fact that Matveychev failed to mention other tenuous Russian land claims in Hawaii and the Hoh River is indicative of their failure to subdue the native populations.

Russia’s Hawaiian adventure was futile and short-lived.

On the Hoh River, the Russians were either killed or enslaved. It is a debt we still owe the Hoh and Quileute people.

The Russian parliamentarian’s demented territorial demands were presented as a form of reparations Russia feels it is due from the damage of the sanctions currently being imposed by the civilized world upon the criminal gang in Moscow.

The state-controlled Russian media seems to support this and other grotesque diplomatic efforts that include the hanging of Ukrainians that resist Russia.

This would be an improvement over other forms of capital punishment the Russians have used over the years, which included impaling, boiling and various forms of dismemberment.

This, in a country that produced Tolstoy, Gogol, Solzhenitsyn, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Chagall and an endless list of inspired artists, musicians, writers, philosophers, explorers and engineers who have uplifted the human spirit throughout history and around the world.

It is also the country where the Bolsheviks introduced the Red Terror in 1917, killing an estimated 100,000 of their political enemies. The 1927 collectivization of agriculture left an estimated death toll of between 6 million and 13 million. Josef Stalin’s “Great Purge” of 1937 killed an estimated 1 million people, while 14 million people were imprisoned in Siberian Gulags. All of which adds up to an estimated 22 million people killed by the management skills of a man President Franklin D. Roosevelt called, “Good old Uncle Joe.”

This would suggest Russia is capable of pretty much any outrage against international law, but claiming to own Alaska and a part of California is a whiney notion of a sore loser.

Russia founded Ross Colony, in 1812, in an unsuccessful effort to grow food that couldn’t be raised in Alaska. Meanwhile in 1834, Russia leased the Alaskan Panhandle to the Hudson Bay Company for 2,000 otter skins a year. This gave HBC access to British Columbia and the Yukon, and the British eventual title to these territories.

Established in 1812, the Russians sold Ross Colony in California in 1849 to John Sutter. He found gold at his nearby sawmill, starting the California Gold Rush of 1849 that produced an estimated 118 million ounces of gold.

Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867 for $7.2 million. In 1898, gold was discovered in the Yukon.

Eventually, 100,000 Americans made their way over the mountains the Russians had leased to the British for otter skins to the Klondike, digging up an estimated 40 million ounces of gold. The gold rush moved to Nome in 1899, where another 3.6 million ounces of gold were dug up.

No wonder the Russians want Alaska back — but that does not mean they are going to get it.

Especially if the governor of Alaska has anything to say about it. The Russians aren’t coming.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via

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