FACT CHECK: Did The Russian Defense Minister Say The Soviet Union Will Return?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A video shared on Facebook claims Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the goal of Russia’s current war in Ukraine is to bring back the Soviet Union.

Verdict: Misleading

The clip is out of context. While Shoigu did say the Soviet Union would return, he was describing a mindset from the 1990s. He was not talking about Russia’s current war goals.

Fact Check: 

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, told Russian state media the country’s goal in Ukraine was to expand beyond the Donbas region, according to Reuters. Russia first invaded Ukraine in an effort to “demilitarize and denazify” the country, the outlet reported.

A video shared on Facebook claims there may be an ulterior motive behind the invasion. The July 28 Facebook video, which shows Shoigu speaking, includes a caption that states “Russian Salute master Sergei Shoigu states the goals of the war saying ‘Soon, there will be a Soviet Union again and we will again live in peace.'” The claim also appeared on Twitter, with one tweet receiving over 2,000 retweets.

Shoigu’s words have been taken out of context, however. Russian state media outlet TASS and South Ossetia state outlet “Res” reported the defense minister made the remarks during an event in July 2022 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of a peacekeeping mission between Georgia and South Ossetia in 1992.

“At that time, I am absolutely sure, especially my generation, we were absolutely convinced that all this was temporary and our country would again be big and strong, and there would be the Soviet Union again, and no one would leave anywhere and everyone would live in peace and quiet,” Shoigu said, according to TASS.

Shoigu appeared to be describing the mindset at the time of the 1992 operation in which some allegedly believed the Soviet Union, which dissolved in 1991, would soon return to power. There is no indication that he said the aim of the war in Ukraine is to bring back the Soviet Union. Newsweek’s fact-checking team rated the claim that Shoigu said the Soviet Union would return false. (RELATED: Did The Russian Ambassador To The UN Say That Donald Trump Was Overthrown?)

“Yes, this phrase was taken out of context and Newsweek reporting on the matter is correct,” Anton Barbashin, a political analyst and the editorial director at Russian affairs journal Riddle, told Check Your Fact in an email.

Update: The verdict section of this article has been updated to clarify that Shoigu was speaking about a mindset from the 1990s.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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