Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that he is not working to revive the Soviet Union, in an attempt to dispel fears of growing Russian influence in former USSR countries.
Putin’s comments were aired in a documentary broadcast by public television channel Rossiya 1 on Sunday, in which he criticised the West for its policies on Ukraine.
"With Ukraine and other areas of the former USSR, I'm sure our Western partners aren't working in the interests of Ukraine, they are working to prevent the recreation of the USSR," Putin was seen saying in the "World Order" documentary.
"But nobody wants to believe us, nobody wants to believe that we're not trying to bring the Soviet Union back," he added.
Ukraine has been on the frontline of a political crisis between Russia and the West, with tensions escalating to their highest levels since the end of the Cold War.
In February 2014, Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital Kiev following months of violent protests sparked by his government’s refusal to accept a much-needed EU bailout due to Russian pressure.
A month later, Russia annexed the breakaway Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine following a referendum, in which Crimea’s predominantly ethnic Russian population voted in favour of joining Moscow.
Russia has also been supporting rebels who have declared self-proclaimed republics in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in the east of the country.
Despite a ceasefire being agreed by both sides in the Belarusian capital Minsk in February, sporadic clashes continue to add the death toll, which currently stands at around 9,000.
Clashes have been particularly intense around the strategic coastal city of Mariupol, with pro-Russian rebels hoping to form a corridor from Donetsk to the Sea of Azov.
There are also concerns that Russia may be attempting to form a corridor through the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa in order to connect to the breakaway Moldovan enclave of Transnistria, where Russia has maintained a military presence since 1992.
Moscow has additionally been supporting the self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia since helping them break away from Georgia in a brief war in August 2008.
In October 2011, Russia also formed the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) bloc to forge closer trade ties with former Soviet republics Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Although the EEU has so far limited itself to promoting economic cooperation between member states, it has been viewed as some as the first sign of a resurgent Russia, which under Putin has re-emerged as a global power.