President Zelenskyy says Ukrainian forces are counterattacking and advancing towards the captured city of Kherson
UK intelligence states that Russia may see a "significant military and political setback" as Ukraine counterattacks target Russian-occupied Kherson.Throughout the buildup to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, NATO countries, including the US, insisted they would not send troops to the region amid concern that the presence of their personnel on the ground would lead to a dangerous escalation of the conflict.
Russia's stated reasons to invade Ukraine have expanded and shifted over the five months of the conflict, from misleading claims Ukraine needs to be "demilitarized" and "denazified," to suggestions it was a preventative strike, and, more recently, to admissions that it was effectively looking to topple Ukraine's pro-Western government and change the "World Order".
The imperialist rhetoric underlying much of that discourse, along with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials lamenting the dissolution of the Soviet Union in past statements, have led many to speculate that its ultimate goal is to resurrect the USSR (or some form of it).
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Thus a statement from the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, spread via a clipped video of his speech, in which he mentioned that the Soviet Union will be back, was quickly taken at face value as confirmation of the Kremlin's true ambitions.
A short clip shared by Twitter user @Krichevskaya and others on Wednesday purported that Shoigu promised the return of the Soviet Union. The tweet, now deleted, was picked up by other prominent users, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
"The latest statements from Lavrov and Shoigu make very clear that Putin's war aims in Ukraine extend well beyond Donbas. Giving Putin another chunk of Ukraine will not produce lasting peace. Only stopping Putin on the battlefield will," McFaul tweeted later.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration likes to say Russia has become isolated internationally because of its invasion of Ukraine. Yet Moscow's top officials have hardly been cloistered in the Kremlin. And now, even the U.S. wants to talk. President Vladimir Putin has been meeting with world leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country is a NATO member. Meanwhile, his top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, is jetting around the world, smiling, shaking hands and posing for photos with foreign leaders — including some friends of the U.S. And on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he wants to end months of top-level U.S.
Other prominent accounts also shared the video, with some including Shoigu's direct quote:
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu speaking for the first time about Russia’s war goals:
“Soon, there will be a Soviet Union again and we will again live in peace.”
At least the Russians have made that clear now. This isn’t just about the Donbas.
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) July 27, 2022
Russian puppet master Sergei Shoigu states the goals of the war saying “Soon, there will be a Soviet Union again and we will again live in peace.”
Sure, we all know how this going to end.#FckPutin#FCKPTN#RussiaIsATerroristStatepic.twitter.com/77IZrA6O1u
— Anonymous Operations (@AnonOpsSE) July 27, 2022
"Russian defense minister Shoigu: 'This is all temporary. There will be the Soviet Union again, no one will go anywhere, and we will live in peace'," Ostap Yarysh, a Voice of America journalist based in Ukraine, wrote.
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Russian defense minister Shoigu: “This is all temporary. There will be the Soviet Union again, no one will go anywhere, and we will live in peace”.
Still have doubts about #Russia’s true intentions?https://t.co/0Nmig06xjV
— Ostap Yarysh (@OstapYarysh) July 27, 2022
"Still have doubts about #Russia's true intentions?" the caption in the tweet added.
The video and quote, either in full or paraphrased, was shared in posts seen by tens of thousands of Twitter and Telegram users over the following day.
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While the video of Sergei Shoigu's TV address is real, it has been taken out of context. He was in fact referencing events of the past.
The military chief was speaking at the 30th anniversary of the 1991-92 South Ossetia War, which was described by Russia back then (and still is to this day) as a "peacekeeping operation."
"The first peacekeeping operation of the Russian Federation, which began on July 14, 1992, in South Ossetia, was carried out in a single breath and became an important milestone for the country," Shoigu said.
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ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s foreign minister urged Germany on Friday to be “an honest broker” and not always side with Athens in disputes between Turkey and Greece. Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments during a tense news conference with his visiting German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, where the two volleyed grievances back and forth, including over Turkey’s plans for a new military incursion into Syria and its human rights issues. “Germany has acted as an honest mediator in the past. It had a balanced attitude, but lately, we see that this balance is unfortunately being lost,” Cavusoglu said, accusing Berlin of falling for “Greek propaganda.
"This is a one-of-a-kind situation in which a commission comprised of representatives from all law enforcement agencies was formed in a matter of days," he added, congratulating all those involved in the operation who were present at the meeting.
According to the minister, "it was a big, important, and vital task for our nation at the time."
Then Shoigu proceeded to make the statement that was later taken out of context. Still referring to the sentiment among the Russian leadership in 1992, he said:
"At the time, I am certain, especially among my generation, we were absolutely convinced that all of this was temporary, that our nation would once again be great and powerful, that the Soviet Union would return, and that no one would leave—everyone would live in peace and harmony," Shoigu said (Italics added by Newsweek for emphasis).
He added that he wished: "All those events truly remained history, and were never to repeat."
While this particular statement by the official has clearly been misinterpreted and misrepresented, others made in recent months have added fuel to the theory that Putin and his allies are intent on rebuilding the Soviet Union, or at least some version of it.
Russian officials and state-owned media have used neo-colonial rhetoric about the newly annexed Ukrainian territories, with terms like "reunification" and "coming home" dominating the coverage.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a recent interview with Russian state media that Moscow's military mission goes beyond Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. "Now the geography is different," Lavrov told Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti.
And Putin himself has entertained the idea of a tri-state union that would include allied Belarus and the annexed parts of Eastern Ukraine.
Newsweek has contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.
No, the Russian defense chief Shoigu did not promise the "return of the Soviet Union" in a recent speech. The clip was taken out of context, as he was in fact speaking about the 1992 war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, and the sentiment about the country's future (and the belief in the return of the USSR) at the time, not today.
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Mysterious explosions that rocked a Russian military base suggest Russian positions far behind the front lines are no longer safe, officials and experts say .
"The psychological impact of this is much larger" than the damage to the base and the loss of aircraft, one expert told Insider.Russia now has over 130,000 troops, as well as a significant amount of weaponry and other hardware, in positions around Ukraine. Though Russia has denied having plans to attack, many in the West remain skeptical. Russia has troops in Belarus, western Russia, and Crimea.