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21 Feb, 2020 10:17

A Russia-Ukraine team would be a powerhouse, so competitors will do anything to tear us apart – Putin

A Russia-Ukraine team would be a powerhouse, so competitors will do anything to tear us apart – Putin

Efforts by some foreign actors to drive a wedge between Russia and Ukraine make sense, since the synergies coming from both countries working together would be of great mutual benefit, Vladimir Putin has said.

Russia and Ukraine have common historic roots and great potential for benefiting each other from joint efforts, so it's no surprise that hostile players put so much energy into preventing any rapprochement, the Russian president said in an interview.

“Since any integration of Russia and Ukraine, along with their capacities and competitive advantages would spell the emergence of a rival, a global rival for both Europe and the world, no one wants this. That’s why they’ll do anything to tear us apart,” he told the news agency TASS.

READ MORE: ‘No one mentioned Mishustin, except me’: Putin reveals new Russian PM wasn't on original shortlist

Ukrainian nationalists and politicians who drive the nations further apart are acting against the interests of their own nation, Putin argued, citing how Ukraine is becoming less industrialized, amid other economic woes which have manifested since 2014. He believes the allegiances of such people lie elsewhere.

Their goal is “not even to get more from robbing the Ukrainian people blind, but to hold on to what they have previously stolen”, he said.

So, where’s the cold hard cash?… In foreign banks. And what are they supposed to do to hold on to it? Show that they are serving those who hold that money.

Putin reiterated that he personally considered Russians and Ukrainians as a single people, but stressed he respected those who consider their separate Ukrainian identity important, even if Russia’s foreign opponents have been using it to play Ukrainians against Moscow for over a century.

The American obsession with wrenching Ukraine from Russia's orbit is often credited to the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish-born former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. "Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire," he observed in 1977. "However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.” 

However, towards the end of his life Brzezinski had somewhat changed his tune. In 2017, he told Russian news outlet Gazeta that Ukraine needed to uphold "a reasonably cooperative relationship with Russia.” 

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