Fri, 07 May 2021

  • Russia's ties with the West have been strained owing to the continued incarceration of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
  • Vladimir Putin used his state of the nation speech to repudiate his global peers.
  • Moscow diplomats have been heavily censured in recent months.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned Russia's foreign rivals against "crossing the red line" with Moscow, as he gave a state of the nation speech amid deep tensions with the West.

Russia's ties with the West have deteriorated to near Cold War lows, with Moscow and Western capitals at loggerheads over jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine's borders and a series of espionage scandals.

"In some countries, they have started an obscene custom of blaming Russia for anything," Putin told gathered lawmakers and regional governors in a speech broadcast on national television.

"It's some kind of sport - a new kind of sport."

READ HERE | Navalny supporters seek to drown out Putin speech with mass protests

The Russian president added that Moscow wants "good relations" with all members of the international community - even with those that it does not see eye to eye.

"But if someone perceives our good intentions as weakness... let them know that Russia's response will be asymmetric and harsh," he said.

He added:

I hope that no one will think of crossing the red line in relation to Russia. And where it will be - we will determine that ourselves.

Moscow has seen its diplomats in recent months expelled from a host of Western countries, which have imposed sanctions on Russia over allegations of cyber attacks, hacking and the poisoning of Navalny.

READ | US-Russia tension rises

The Kremlin last week said it was "good" that US President Joe Biden was seeking dialogue with Putin by offering a summit between the two leaders, even as Washington slapped Moscow with new sanctions.

It has said, however, it is still considering the offer.

Source: News24

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