Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia was “not striving” to recreate the Soviet Union as he prepared to annex four Moscow-occupied Ukrainian regions at a Kremlin ceremony. “The USSR is no more. We can’t bring the past back. And Russia doesn’t need it anymore. We are not striving towards that,” Putin said. He also accused the last leaders of the Soviet Union of “destroying our great country”. Putin was speaking at a televised ceremony to formalise the annexation of four Russian-held regions in Ukraine, where pro-Moscow authorities conducted hastily organised referendums, denounced by Kyiv and the West as a sham.