Putin comments on collapse of USSR
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a tragedy and saw the disintegration of a historical Russia that had been built up over a thousand years, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday.
Speaking as part of a TV documentary on the modern history of Russia, Putin lamented the loss of an immense amount of territory and population.
“It was a tragedy for the vast majority of the country’s citizens,” the President said. “After all, what is the collapse of the USSR? It’s the collapse of historical Russia, called the Soviet Union.”
Putin also recalled how Moscow lost control of 40% of its territory and roughly the same amount of production capacity and population.
“We have turned into a different country completely. And what has been built up over a thousand years, to a large extent, has been lost,” he added. “Overnight, 25 million Russian people found themselves abroad, in the republics of the former USSR, which had gained independence, sovereignty.”
The president noted, however, that becoming an independent state was probably a good thing for many of the republics that Moscow formerly controlled. But, for the Russian people stuck abroad, it was terrible.
“It was impossible for them to go back, to be reunited with their relatives. There was no place to work, no place to live. This is a great humanitarian tragedy, no exaggeration,” Putin said.
This isn’t the first time that the Russian president has lamented the fall of the USSR. In 2005, at his annual address to the Federal Assembly, Putin called the event “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”
“As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory,” he said.
The president’s latest comments followed a suggestion from Washington that the Kremlin wants to recreate the Soviet Union. Following the accusation, which came from US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov dubbed it simply “impossible.”