RUSSIA,UN: Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that he does not plan to restore Russia’s empire, a day after he ordered Russian troops to be sent to eastern Ukraine and questioned Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“We predicted speculation that Russia plans to restore (its) empire within imperial borders,” Putin said at a meeting with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in the Kremlin, adding: “This absolutely does not correspond with reality”.
The Russian President said Tuesday that Moscow “recognised the new geopolitical realities” after the fall of the Soviet Union and works with “all independent countries in the post-Soviet space.”
But he said Ukraine was an exception, saying “it is being used by third countries to create threats towards Russia.”
“Unfortunately, after the coup d’etat in Ukraine, we do not see such a level and quality of interaction with Ukraine. It disappeared,” Putin said, referring to Ukraine’s 2014 pro-Western revolution. Putin annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.
In 2008, Russia also supported two Georgian separatist regions and has backed a breakaway region of Moldova, Transnistria, since the 1990s.
Putin’s recognition of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk rebel republics opens the door for a Russian military presence in the region.
President Putin has also called for international recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, an end to Ukraine’s NATO membership bid and a halt to weapons shipments there.
Putin claimed Tuesday that Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula should be internationally recognized as a legitimate reflection of the local population’s choice, likening it to a vote for Kosovo independence.
The annexation has been widely condemned by Western powers as a breach of international law.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticized the West’s threat of new sanctions trageting Moscow.
The West is holding Russia responsible for the failure of the peace plan for eastern Ukraine, Lavrov said on state television on Tuesday. Washington and Brussels would only calm down when “they have exhausted their options for the so-called punishment of Russia,” Lavrov said. “They are already threatening all kinds of sanctions … We have got used to it.”
Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world is facing the biggest global peace and security crisis in recent years.
Guterres told reporters Tuesday he is proud of the achievements of the UN’s far-flung peacekeepers, but when troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, as Russian forces have done, they are not impartial peacekeepers — they are not peacekeepers at all as Moscow has called them.
He called at this critical moment for an immediate cease-fire, de-escalation, restraint and reason, and a halt to actions or statements that would take this dangerous situation over the brink. -THE TIMES OF INDIA,INDIAN EXPRESS