How Putin is building tinpot empire of tyrants to 'rebuild Soviet Union' as he 'sends troops & tanks' to Kazakhstan

VLADIMIR Putin is constructing a tinpot empire of failing states and ruthless tyrants as he attempts to build new a "Soviet Union".

Russia is cosying up to a rogue's gallery of nations as it seeks to expand its influence – today sending in "peacekeepers" to crush protests in Kazakhstan.

Putin's desire to make Russia great again is no secret, and neither is his admiration for the Soviet Union – which collapsed in 1991.

Vlad has called the tyrannical bloc's collapse a "genuine tragedy" – and is believed by some to be seeking to set the map back some 30 years.

Ukraine intelligence warned Russia wants "to neutralise western influence and create a trading space" – in effect a return to the USSR.

Putin has used land grabs along with establishing key alliances with dictators in neighbouring states to expand his influence.

And it ranges far beyond the original borders of the Soviet Union, also striking up alliances in South America and the Middle East.

States who fall out with the West or dictators who need help are seen as an opportunity by Putin.

With tanks and troops rolling into Kazakhstan, it brings back echoes of the days behind the Iron Curtain.

Here are some of the nations and regions who make up Putin's worrying new empire-esque sphere of influence as he seeks to return to the glory of the USSR.

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KAZAKHSTAN

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Mass unrest is sweeping through KazakhstanCredit: Reuters

Russia has sent in paratroopers and deployed the tanks to the border in a bid to help prop up a puppet government in Kazakhstan.

The former Soviet state has been ruled firmly by leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81, who still holds onto the reins despite stepping down three years ago.

Protests have erupted over rising fuel prices which have then spiralled into wider anti-government marches – turning violent with vandalism and fires.

Russia and Kazakhstan have claimed the protests are work of foreign agitators & terrorists.

Dozens of protesters have been killed – along with at least 13 members of the security forces, including reports two were beheaded.

Putin's rapid deployment of troops however is seen as him further staking his claim to influence over Kazakhstan.

The Kremlin have numerous times in recent years used its power to prop up dictators and regimes – much to the alarm of the West.

SYRIA

Putin's influence has well expanded into the Middle East as Russia helped prop up the regime of ruthless dictator Bashar al-Assad.

It is seen a major victory for the Kremlin as it has given Putin a foothold in the region.

Russia deployed troops in 2015 to fight against rebels and ISIS terrorists who rose up in the chaos.

It marked the first time since the end of Cold War that Russia went to war outside the borders of the former Soviet Union.

Putin's forces were criticised for a brutal campaign that allegedly killed thousands of civilians.

But it was ultimately successfully, and Assad remains in power with Putin's hand firmly on his shoulder.

BELARUS

Europe's last dictator Alexander Lukashenko was also propped up by Putin as he clung to power in 2020.

Much like what we are seeing now in Kazakhstan, Russia supported the tyrant when protests erupted against him after a rigged election.

Global pressure was mounting for Lukashenko to step down, but then Vlad stepped in.

The former Soviet state is now joined at the hip with its neighbouring Russia.

Lukashenko and Putin were pictured playing ice hockey together last week as they held further talks.

It is believed Putin will use Belarus as a forward base to continue expanding his influence into Eastern Europe and over Ukraine.

VENEZUELA

Venezuela has been seen as a key regional rival of the US – and Russia has been using that to its advantage.

The country – ruled by dictator Maduro, who overruled a lost election in 2019 – has borrowed billions of dollars from Putin.

It has also purchased weapons such as tanks, missiles and aircraft from Russia – and there has even been suggestions Putin could put nukes in Venezuela.

Being left almost completely dependent on Russia – Venezuela has provided Putin with a key foothold near the US.

Russia is even claimed to have been behind an attempt to stop a US plan to oust Maduro.

Putin casts a shadow from Venezuela across the US, and Russia has said it will continue to develop its relationship with them.

CUBA

Sitting on the US's doorstep, Cuba was at the centre of when the world was pushed to brink of World War 3 in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Since the end of the Cold War, the two countries have remained close – with Russia giving them billions of dollars.

Putin famously visited in 2014 where he wiped clean 90 per cent of the country's debt to Moscow.

The move continued to keep the country in Russia's pocket – and Cuba regularly backs the country in international spats with the West.

DONBAS & CRIMEA

The Donbas and Crimea used to be parts of Ukraine – and now they pretty much belong to Russia.

Putin's invasion of Western-leaning former Soviet state in 2014 set the tone for Russia's global status for the next decade.

Crimea was annexed, and the Donbas region plunged into civil war with Ukraine fighting against pro-Russian rebels.

Ukraine has ever since feared further Russian land grabs – including current looming concerns of an imminent invasion.

Russia's actions over the next weeks and months could be a test of mettle for the West, as to whether they would risk war with Putin to save Kiev.

Putin has always denied any aggressive intent to Ukraine – but US intelligence have sounded the alarm of his actions.

TURKMENISTAN

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is seen as one of the world's most outrageous dictators – up there with Kim Jong-un.

The tyrannical megalomaniac has had a 68 foot statue of himself on a horse, a 20 foot statue of his dog, and once wrote a rap song about his horse.

He has performed his music on state TV, lifted gold bars as sycophantic politicians applauded, and put on displays driving around in his £1million Bugatti for his citizens.

And like many of the world's dictators, he is a close ally of Putin – even gifting him a puppy in 2017.

Turkmenistan was a member of the Soviet Union until the end of the Cold War.

And like many other nations, Putin has offered them his friendship and his support as he expands his influence in Central Asia.

CHECHNYA

Chechnya is part of Russia – but it is ruled by one Putin's closet allies, the strongman dictator Ramzan Kadyrov.

Kadyrov leads with an iron fist and has been linked to several assassinations, including some in Europe.

He has persecuted LGBT people, disappeared opponents and allegedly been behind instances of torture.

Russia conquered the last of independent Chechnya in 2000 – and since 2007 it has been the fiercely loyal Kadyrov keeping the former republic in line for Vlad.

He is an example of the control Russia can impose on a state should it decide to fully annex them.

And up to 50 family members of his critics were abducted in a wave of mass kidnappings last December.

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