Russia’s Putin says West wants to ‘incite conflict’

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Russia’s president held virtual talks with the heads of intelligence services from former Soviet countries on Thursday, during which he criticized the West for “working on scenarios of the incitement of new conflicts on the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States.”

The Commonwealth of Independent States was founded on Dec. 8, 1991, and is made up of several former republics of the USSR, or Soviet Union.

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Vladimir Putin said the “collective West” is “putting pressure on countries that choose a sovereign path of development, on those who don’t want to obey.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Kremlin said that the four regions of Ukraine that held votes on joining Russia will be incorporated into the country on Friday.

Putin is expected to attend a ceremony at the Kremlin at which they will be officially folded into Russia, officials said.

Ukraine and the West have denounced the votes as illegitimate.

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