- - Monday, September 28, 2015

TASS, the Russian state news service reported today on Vladimir Putin’s comments to Charlie Rose in an interview held in the United States prior to Mr. Putin’s speech to the United Nations. Mr. Putin couched his comments in the vein of personal hardship rather than the dream of a new Russian empire.

Upon being asked by Mr. Rose about Russian expansionism, he replied, “Your questions make me happy. Somebody is always suspecting Russia of having some ambitions, there are always those who are trying to misinterpret us or keep something back. I did say that I see the collapse of the Soviet Union as a great tragedy of the 20th century. Do you know why?

“First of all, because 25 million of Russian people suddenly turned out to be outside the borders of the Russian Federation. They used to live in one state; the Soviet Union has traditionally been called Russia, the Soviet Russia, and it was the great Russia. They used to live in one country and suddenly found themselves abroad. Can you imagine how many problems came out?” Mr. Putin said.

“First, there were everyday issues, the separation of families, the economic and social problems. The list is endless. Do you think it is normal that 25 million people, Russian people, suddenly found themselves abroad? The Russians have turned out to be the largest divided nation in the world nowadays. Is that not a problem? It is not a problem for you as it is for me,” he commented on PBS.

Mr. Putin’s comments come as Russia is landing a large expeditionary force in Syria and building multiple military facilities near Latakia, conceivably to protect their naval base at Tartus, Syria, and to support their longtime ally Bashar Assad of Syria in his civil war. Russia has also stated its intention to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the area and has signed a coordination agreement with Iran, Iraq and Syria to that end.

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