Putin: If he could, he'd try to prevent 1991 USSR collapse

Photo: The Kremlin
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MOSCOW (AP) — If he could go back in time, Vladimir Putin's mission would be to prevent the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

That's what he told a forum in the city of Kaliningrad on Friday. Taking questions from audience members, he was asked what occurrence in Russia he would have most liked to have prevented.

He replied "the disintegration of the Soviet Union," according to Russian news reports.

In 2005, Putin attracted wide attention when he said in a state-of-the-nation speech that the Soviet collapse was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."

Putin's comment Friday came a day after he announced that Russia had developed allegedly invincible new nuclear weapons, raising concerns of a new arms race like that of Soviet times.