Russia has taken another step towards reviving Soviet Union - Ukraine DM

US ambassador to the UN charged that Moscow was making claims on "all territories" of the pre-Soviet Union Russian Empire • Russian FM: Ukraine has no right to sovereignty

A grenade launcher operator of the Russian armed forces takes part in combat drills last week in the Rostov region of Russia near Ukraine. (photo credit: SERGEY PIVOVAROV/REUTERS)
A grenade launcher operator of the Russian armed forces takes part in combat drills last week in the Rostov region of Russia near Ukraine.
(photo credit: SERGEY PIVOVAROV/REUTERS)

"The Kremlin has taken another step towards the revival of the Soviet Union," Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in an address to soldiers on Tuesday.

Reznikov said that the revival of the Soviet Union was complete with a new Warsaw Pact and Berlin Wall. 

"The darkness of uncertainty has fallen. What you have known for eight years, the whole world has now seen," he said. "Yesterday [the enemy] showed his true face: the face of a criminal who wants to hold a free world hostage."

The only thing stopping the Soviet Union's revival, the defense minister said, "is Ukraine and the Ukrainian army."

There will be "difficult challenges ahead," Reznikov told soldiers. "There will be losses. We will have to go through pain, overcome fear and despair. But we will definitely win. Because we are on our land and the truth is behind us."

 US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks as United Nations Security Council meets after Russia recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, in New York City, US. February 21, 2022. (credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS) US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks as United Nations Security Council meets after Russia recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, in New York City, US. February 21, 2022. (credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)

Restoring the Russian Empire

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during her remarks at a UN Security Council Emergency Meeting on Ukraine on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that his country has a rightful claim to all former Russian empire states. 

"President Putin asserted that Russia today has a rightful claim to all territories – all territories – from the Russian Empire; the same Russian Empire from before the Soviet Union, from over 100 years ago," she said. "That includes all of Ukraine."

Such claims would also include Finland, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and parts of Poland and Turkey, the ambassador said.
"In essence, Putin wants the world to travel back in time," Thomas-Greenfield said. "To a time before the United Nations. To a time when empires ruled the world. But the rest of the world has moved forward. It is not 1919; It is 2022. The United Nations was founded on the principle of decolonization, not recolonization. "

NATO expansionism

But in an address late Monday night, Putin charged that it was NATO that had engaged in expansionism by including former Soviet bloc states in the alliances.

Putin explained to the citizens of the Russian Federation his rationale for recognizing the rebel Donetsk and Lugansk Republics and for sending "peacekeepers" to the territories.
"I would like to emphasize again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space," Putin said.

"Since time immemorial, the people living in the south-west of what has historically been Russian land have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians. This was the case before the 17th century, when a portion of this territory rejoined the Russian state, and after."

The Russian president laid out the history of the region and how all the states had formed, questioning the development of Ukraine as an independent, non-corrupt and stable state. Ukraine is like a colony or puppet state of the West and local oligarchs, Putin said. In the address, he didn't lay claim to former Russian Empire territorial holdings, but did say that he would support Russian peoples living in the breakaway territories.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Ukraine does not have a right to sovereignty, the Interfax news agency reported. 

Russian-backed separatist leader Denis Pushilin said on Tuesday that Moscow formally recognized the breakaway region of Donetsk within the wider boundaries of eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, much of which is controlled by Ukrainian forces.

Speaking on Russian state television, Pushilin said the matter of the territory not controlled by separatists would be resolved later.

"The border issue is not simple, it will be resolved later," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.