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Ukraine a ‘matter of life and death’ – Putin

The Ukraine crisis is of existential importance for Russia, President Vladimir Putin told reporter Pavel Zarubin on Sunday, while it is only a tactical issue for NATO.

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He explained that the main goal of his deep dive into the country’s history during an interview earlier this month with American journalist Tucker Carlson was to give the Western audience a chance to understand Moscow’s mindset on the issue.

Putin admitted that understanding all the intricacies of Russia’s 1,000-year history is “not easy” for Western viewers, especially Americans, whose country has only existed for 300 years.

However, the president said he believed that it was important for Western audiences “to understand how we think… to understand how sensitive and important this [Ukraine] issue is for our country.”

The Russian president added that this was the core message that he wanted to send to the West. “Whether it worked, it is not up for me to judge,” he added.

READ MORE: Ukraine is ‘artificial state’ – Putin

During the two-hour interview with Carlson, which has garnered tens of millions of views, Putin spoke at length about how the Russian and Ukrainian states came to be. He said that while the territory of modern Ukraine had come under heavy Polish influence, many people in the region still wanted to join Russia because of close cultural and religious ties.

According to Putin, any talk of Ukraine’s independence started only in the 19th century. The country was formed by Soviet authorities after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, he explained. After World War II, Ukraine had received a lot of territory from its neighbors, making it an “artificial state,” he added.

Russia has repeatedly said its military operation against Ukraine, which started in February 2022, seeks to “denazify” and “demilitarize” the neighboring country. Moscow has also for years voiced concerns about the expansion of NATO – which it has called a “tool of confrontation” – toward its borders after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Putin has also said that Ukraine’s push to join the US-led military bloc was one of the key reasons for the current conflict.

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