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Saturday, July 20, 2024

I was naive about the West – Putin

The president has admitted believing the crusade against Russia would be over after the Soviet Union’s collapse

President Vladimir Putin has said he was wrong to assume the West would establish productive relations with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In reality, it was determined to break the nation apart, the Russian leader explained.

In an interview with Russian journalist Pavel Zarubin aired on Sunday, Putin admitted that he was a “naive” leader early in his political career even though he had a solid background in Soviet intelligence.

Read more: Putin vows ‘harsh’ punishment for meddling in Russia vote

The Russian president said that he had believed that the West understood that Russia had become a completely different country after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that no further ideological differences were warranting a serious stand-off.

According to Putin, even when he saw Western efforts to support terrorism and separatism in Russia two decades ago, he thought that it was the “inertia of thinking” that was to blame. “They had just got used to fighting the Soviet Union,” he believed.

In reality, however, the West was deliberately trying to undercut Russia, the president said. “After the collapse of the Soviet Union they thought they just had to wait a little longer, and then they would break Russia apart as well.”

According to Putin, the West saw no need for the existence of the world’s largest country, with its large population. “It would be better, as suggested by… [former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew] Brzezinski, to divide it into five parts, and subjugate them one by one.”

This alleged Western plan, he explained, hinged on the premise that several smaller states “would have no weight or voice of their own, and would have no chance to defend their national interests in the way that the united Russian state has.”

The Russian leader was apparently referring to a 1997 article penned by Brzezinski, an ardent supporter of Soviet containment who died in 2017, which suggested at the time that Moscow should abandon “a futile effort to regain its status as a global power.” The former White House adviser also opined that “a loosely confederated Russia, composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic” would have an easier time fostering economic relations with its neighbors.

Read more: Macron responds to Putin criticism

Putin has repeatedly said that the West was planning to split Russia into several states, warning that the Russian people could cease to exist if this happens, and naming its continued unity as the key condition for the country’s success.