Putin Warns U.S. Against Using Force on Iran During Marathon Call-In Show
President Vladimir Putin says that Russian private military contractors have been active in Syria, adding that they don’t represent the Russian state.
Asked why the government doesn’t offer veterans’ benefits to private contractors who fought in Syria, Putin said Thursday that they have been there in their private capacity and engaged in “oil exploration.” He added that “it has nothing to do with the Russian state or the Russian army and, therefore, we do not comment on this subject.”
The statement marked Putin’s first acknowledgement that Russian private military contractors were active in Syria.
Russian media have reported that the so-called Wagner Company has sent thousands of mercenaries to Syria, augmenting the Russian military. The company has been linked to businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, indicted by the U.S. for meddling in the 2016 elections.
President Vladimir Putin says that Russia doesn’t want to regain its Soviet-era superpower clout.
Asked if Russia has regained the Soviet Union’s superpower status, Putin said it’s not needed.
Speaking after Thursday’s call-in show, the Russian leader told reporters that “we don’t want to be like the Soviet Union that enforced its way of life and political system on its neighbors, including countries of Eastern Europe.”
He noted that the Soviet policy was “counterproductive, too costly and lacking historic perspective” and “it’s impossible to force other people to live according to your rules.”
Putin charged that the U.S. has failed to learn from Soviet mistakes in a bid for global domination. In an apparent reference to the U.S., he said “they keep repeating the same mistakes” by conducting “imperial-style policies.”
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