Russia has no ‘imperial ambitions’, says Putin

September 11th, 2008 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow/Sochi (Russia), Sep 11 (DPA) Russia’s powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday his country did not have any “imperial ambitions” and he saw no substance in fears of a new Cold War with the West.”We do not have any ideological contradictions that could serve as the basis for a new Cold War,” local media quoted him as saying at a Kremlin round table in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

“Quite the opposite, we have many common problems that can only be resolved together,” Putin said.

War between Moscow and its former Soviet vassal Georgia last month electrified old fears in Europe, and Russia’s relations with the West plunged to new lows reminiscent of the Cold War.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned in the wake of the conflict that the Kremlin could again resort to force to carry out imperialist designs on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, where Moscow rents a port for its Black Sea fleet.

But speaking to Western experts at the round table Thursday, Putin said, “We have none of the imperialist ambitions of which we are accused.”

The former president, who once called the collapse of erstwhile Soviet Union the greatest disaster ever to befall Russia, said: “If it hadn’t been for Russia, the USSR would still exist today.”

“Russia initiated the end of the USSR,” Putin was quoted by Interfax as saying Thursday. “We made this decision a long time ago, and we do not have any desire or any intention to encroach on the sovereignty of republics of the former USSR.”

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