Russian President Vladimir Putin
President Vladimir Putin
warned the West not to cross Russia’s “red line” in their actions or face a tough response, while holding out an offer of strategic talks amid spiralling tensions with the West.
“Those who stage any provocations that threaten key elements of our security will regret it more than they’ve regretted anything in a long time,” Putin said in his annual state-of-the-nation speech on Wednesday.
“Russia’s response will be asymmetric, quick and harsh.”
The Russian president didn’t single out any countries for criticism, saying Russia
would decide where its red lines lie on a case-bycase basis. Touting Russia’s new nuclear weapons, he renewed an offer for talks with other world powers to increase strategic stability.
The ruble gained against the dollar at the end of the speech, which some observers had feared might include major new confrontational foreign-policy moves. President Joe Biden and Putin are discussing a U.S. offer for a summit even after the American leader imposed a raft of new sanctions on Russia
including measures targeting sovereign debt last week.
With parliamentary elections due in September, Putin devoted most of the address to domestic issues, promising expanded government benefits and more spending on infrastructure to boost flagging living standards. Putin, who said pressure on Russia
had become “a new form of sport,” harshly criticised an alleged coup attempt in Belarus involving a plot to kill Kremlin ally President Alexander Lukashenko that Russia says was hatched in consultation with the U.S. Washington denies involvement.