By Rebecca Shabad - 04/17/14 10:56 AM EDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday jokingly implied that Alaska wasn't worth reunifying with Russia because it was too cold.
At a nearly four-hour, question-and-answer event, one submitted question for Putin asked if, following the annexation of Crimea, he had designs for the largest of the United States.
“Are there any plans to annex Alaska to Russia? We would be very happy [about that],” said Faina Ivanovna, drawing laughter from the crowd.
“What would you need Alaska for?” Putin said with a smile.
Putin remarked that Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867 for $7.2 million in gold, which he said wasn’t that expensive.
A petition on the White House website calls for Alaska to secede from the U.S. and rejoin Russia. Since it was created in late March, nearly 42,500 people have signed it.
In the 19th century, some in the U.S. criticized Secretary of State William Seward's purchase of Alaska, calling it “Seward’s folly.”
Thirty years later, however, a gold rush hit Alaska and it was seen as a valuable addition to the U.S. The sale has since been a sore spot for Russians.