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Russia-Ukraine Relations Turn Sour; Poroshenko Accuses Putin of Dreaming of Rebuilding Russian Empire

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Russia-Ukraine Relations continue to turn sour after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of attempting to rebuild “the Russian Empire” in the middle of a conflict between Kiev and Moscow over the seizure of three Ukrainian vessels in the Sea of Azov.

Poroshenko made the accusation in an interview with the German media. Russia’s naval forces intercepted and seized three Ukrainian vessels after they entered Russian waters off the coast of Crimea in the Sea of Azov on Sunday.

The Kremlin said the seizure of the ships was legitimate because they were intruding on Russia’s territorial waters off the coast of Crimea, which voted to join Russia in a 2014 referendum. Kiev and its Western allies, however, have been striving to portray that as an act of Russian “aggression.”

“Putin wants to bring back the old Russian Empire. Crimea, Donbass… he wants the whole country,” Poroshenko claimed in remarks made to the Bild daily, Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper. “As a Russian emperor, as he sees himself, his empire cannot function without Ukraine, he sees us as a colony.”

The Ukrainian president also sought to drum up support from NATO states in the standoff with Russia, calling on Germany and the US-led alliance to send naval vessels to the Sea of Azov to protect Ukraine and its interests.

“Germany is one of our closest allies, and we hope that states within NATO are now ready to relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security,” Poroshenko told the German paper, claiming that Russia “wants nothing less than to occupy the sea.”

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