Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Putin warns foreign powers against crossing Russia’s ‘red lines’ | Al Jazeera

Putin warns foreign powers against crossing Russia’s ‘red lines’

As a rift between Russia and the West widens, President Vladimir Putin has used his annual state-of-the-nation speech to warn that Moscow is prepared to respond harshly to any foreign provocations.

Addressing top officials and legislators from both houses of the Russian parliament in the capital, Putin said his government strived to have good relations with other countries and hoped no foreign state would cross the Kremlin’s “red lines”.

“We want good relations … and really don’t want to burn bridges,” Putin said.

“But if someone mistakes our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intends to burn down or even blow up these bridges, they should know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift and harsh.”

His comments came as Russia-West relations plunge to post-Cold War lows, with fractures over the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny and a continuing standoff over the simmering conflict in neighbouring Ukraine.

Moscow has come under intense criticism from Western powers, including the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union, since the beginning of the year over its handling of Navalny’s case.

In recent weeks, relations soured further over concerns in Kyiv and allied capitals over Moscow’s role in an uptick in hostilities in the conflict-stricken Donbas region.

Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over increasing clashes in the area, where Ukrainian troops have battled Russian-backed separatist forces since the rebels seized a swath of territory there in April 2014.

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