Putin: We do not seek the return of the Russian “empire”.. Ukraine is an exception

“We expected that there would be speculations that Russia intends to rebuild an empire,” he said during a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev in the Kremlin, adding that “this does not correspond at all to reality.”

He added that Russia respects the sovereignty of the other republics of the former Soviet Union, noting that Moscow considers Ukraine an exception to that because, according to him, it is under foreign control.

Ukraine rejects what it says is a torrent of propaganda against it from Russia, which has massed forces near its ex-Soviet neighbor and on Monday recognized two breakaway regions of its territory as independent republics.

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