Putin says the West aims to “tear apart” Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the West for trying to “tear apart” Russia, in excerpts from an interview to be broadcast on national television later Sunday.

“At the heart of it all is the policy of our geopolitical opponents, which aims to tear apart historical Russia,” Putin said.

“They have always tried to ‘divide and rule’… Our goal is something else – to unite the Russian people,” he said.

Putin used the concept of “historic Russia” to say that Ukrainians and Russians are one people – undermining Kyiv’s sovereignty and justifying his 10-month offensive in Ukraine.

“We are acting in the right direction, we are protecting our national interests, the interests of our citizens and our people,” Putin said.

The president repeated his claims that Moscow was “ready to negotiate with all participants in this process (to find) an acceptable solution” to the conflict.

On his first trip outside Ukraine since the offensive began in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has secured strong pledges of support from US President Joe Biden, including the Pentagon’s most advanced air defense system.

“Of course, we will destroy it 100%!” Putin said, referring to the Patriot missile battery that Zelensky had promised.

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