Putin says Russia 'not striving' for return of Soviet Union

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia was "not striving" to recreate the Soviet Union as he prepared to annex four Moscow-occupied Ukrainian regions at a Kremlin ceremony.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony to sign treaties formally annexing four regions of Ukraine Russian troops occupy - Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, at the Kremlin in Moscow on September 30, 2022. Grigory SYSOYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP

"The USSR is no more. We can't bring the past back. And Russia doesn't need it anymore. We are not striving towards that," Putin said.

He also accused the last leaders of the Soviet Union of "destroying our great country".

Putin was speaking at a televised ceremony to formalise the annexation of four Russian-held regions in Ukraine, where pro-Moscow authorities conducted hastily organised referendums, denounced by Kyiv and the West as a sham.

In his speech, Putin also claimed the West wanted to see Russia as a "colony".

"It is out of greed, with the aim of maintaining its unlimited power. These are the real reasons for this hybrid war that the West is waging against us... They want to make us into a colony," Putin said in televised remarks.

"They don't need Russia at all," he said.

"The West is ready to step over everything to preserve the neo-colonial system, which allows it to parasitise, and, in fact, plunder the whole world," Putin added.

He claimed it was "critical for them that all countries surrender their sovereignty to the United States".