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Foreign affairs

Ukrainian PM: Putin 'has a dream to restore the Soviet Union'


Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says Russian President Vladimir Putin is bent on slicing off more territory from neighboring lands in an attempt to rebuild a romanticized ideal of the Soviet Union.

In an interview with Meet the Press that will air Sunday, Yatsenyuk says Putin has his sights set on eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have in the past two weeks taken over buildings and sparred with security forces.

"President Putin has a dream to restore the Soviet Union," he says, "and every day he goes further and further, and God knows where is the final destination."

The remark comes days after Putin referred to eastern Ukraine as "new Russia" and warned that he could send troops to the region to protect ethnic Russians. And it comes as Ukrainian troops are engaged in a deadly clash to dislodge entrenched separatists from the area. A shootout at a checkpoint on Sunday left one dead and hospitalized others.

The U.S. government to some degree shares Yatsenyuk's concern. Putin infamously said in a 2005 speech that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." --Jon Terbush