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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he believes Russians and Ukrainians constitute one nation and that the countries should find a way to integrate.
Putin made the comments in an interview with the American film director Oliver Stone on June 19; material from the interview was used in a Stone film about Ukraine and the full transcript was published by the Kremlin on Friday.
"I believe that Russians and Ukrainians are one people ... one nation, in fact," Putin said. "When these lands that are now the core of Ukraine joined Russia ... nobody thought of themselves as anything but Russians."
In light of this bond, Putin said "we can use this as our competitive advantage during some form of integration."