Putin responds to imperialism accusations
Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed the accusation that he is plotting to restore his country to the borders of the Russian Empire, insisting that Moscow recognizes the independence of post-Soviet states.
In an exchange held with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday, Putin assured that, while he had anticipated Western backlash over his decision to formally recognize the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, the return of the Russian Empire was not on the cards.
“I want to say right away: we see and foresaw speculation on this topic that Russia is going to restore the empire within the same imperial borders. This is absolutely not true,” the Russian president explained to Aliyev.
Putin stressed that, rather than seeking to recolonize countries previously under Moscow’s control, his government has, in fact, “recognized all the new geopolitical realities” in a quest for cooperation with independent states which have emerged since the fall of the USSR.
“Even in very acute situations … we have always acted very carefully,” he said, referring to Russia’s treatment of issues of state sovereignty, “…proceeding from the interests of all the states involved … and have always tried to achieve mutually acceptable solutions.”
The West has accused Russia of being imperialistically motivated after Putin opted to formally recognize the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics on Monday, putting an end to their limbo status inside Ukraine. According to the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Putin wants to “travel back in time … to a time when empires ruled the world,” something she stressed would have “dire” consequences both for Ukraine and across the globe.