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Russia could regain its status as “a global rival” for Western powers through some degree of “integration” with Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said… Putin made the comment while reiterating his belief that Ukrainians and Russians are “the same people,” a claim widely perceived as a means to justify Russian influence over former Soviet nations. His reference to “integration” is even more unusual, and incendiary, according to Western analysts, given that the two countries have been locked in conflict since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine in 2014… Multiple Western analysts noted that Putin has been pressuring Belarus…

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