Vladimir Putin has long insisted Ukraine is part of the country he rules.
“Kiev is the mother of Russian cities. Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other,” he wrote in March 2014 – a few days before completing the annexation of Crimea.
The Russian president returned to this theme in an essay on the Kremlin’s website in July 2020 when he wrote, “True sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.” Seven months later, Putin has doubled down on this idea.
In an hour-long and fairly wide-ranging speech on February 21, he repeated that “Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space.” He repeatedly denied Ukraine’s right to independent existence – and, at times, that the country exists at all as an independent entity.