St Petersburg, May 24 (Reuters): Russian President Vladimir Putin today dismissed talk of a new Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine and denied trying to rebuild the Soviet Union after reclaiming Crimea.
In an interview with Reuters and other international news agencies in a grandiose palace outside St Petersburg, Putin blamed the violence and political instability in Ukraine on the West and warned that sanctions would rebound on the US and the EU.
The crisis has plunged East-West relations to their lowest level since the Cold War ended in 1991.
But making a new pledge to work with whoever is elected president in Ukraine on Sunday, Putin called for dialogue with the West and hoped the EU and the US were ready for compromise.
“I would not like to think this is the start of a new Cold War. It is in no one’s interest and I think it will not happen,” said Putin, sitting at a large table with journalists in the Konstantinovsky Palace on the Gulf of Finland near the former imperial capital, the cradle of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.
Although he has described the Soviet Union’s demise as a geopolitical disaster, the former KGB agent denied trying to revive the Soviet empire after annexing Crimea in March.
Plans to form a Russia-led trading bloc with two former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan and Belarus, should also not be seen as evidence that he harbours such ambitions, he said.
“They try to stick this label on us — a label that we are trying to restore an empire, the Soviet Union, make everyone subordinate. This absolutely does not correspond to reality,” he said.“It is a media weapon of war.”
Putin accused Prince Charles today of unacceptable and unroyal behaviour by comparing him with Adolf Hitler over Russia’s stance in Ukraine.