Putin vows a ‘quick and tough’ Russian response for its foes

Apr 20, 2021, 2:35 PM | Updated: Apr 21, 2021, 2:58 pm

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday sternly warned the West against encroaching further on Russia’s security interests, saying Moscow’s response will be “quick and tough” and make the culprits bitterly sorry for their action.

The warning during Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation address came amid a massive Russian military buildup near Ukraine, where cease-fire violations in the seven-year conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have escalated in recent weeks. The United States and its allies have urged the Kremlin to pull the troops back.

“I hope that no one dares to cross the red line in respect to Russia, and we will determine where it is in each specific case,” Putin said. “Those who organize any provocations threatening our core security interests will regret their deeds more than they regretted anything for a long time.”

Moscow has rejected Ukrainian and Western concerns about the troop buildup, saying it doesn’t threaten anyone and that Russia is free to deploy its forces on its territory. But the Kremlin also has warned Ukraine against trying to use force to retake control of the rebel-held east, saying Russia could be forced to intervene to protect civilians in the region.

“We really don’t want to burn the bridges,” Putin said. “But if some mistake our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intend to burn or even blow up those bridges themselves, Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, quick and tough.”

As Putin spoke, a wave of protests started rolling across Russia in support of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and a human rights group said nearly 1,500 people were arrested. Thousands marched in central Moscow, where police blocked off a square next to the Kremlin. Police in St. Petersburg blocked off Palace Square, outside the Hermitage museum, and protesters instead massed along Nevsky Prospekt.

The politician, who is Putin’s most persistent critic and was poisoned with a chemical nerve agent last year, started a hunger strike three weeks ago to protest what he said was inadequate medical treatment and officials’ refusal to allow his doctor to visit him. His supporters called the rallies as his health reportedly is in severe decline.

In his speech, Putin pointed to Russia’s moves to modernize its nuclear arsenal and said the military would continue to build more state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles and other new weapons. He added that the development of the nuclear-armed Poseidon underwater drone and the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile is continuing successfully.

In an apparent reference to the U.S. and its allies, the Russian leader denounced those who impose “unlawful, politically motivated economic sanctions and crude attempts to enforce its will on others.” He said Russia has shown restraint and often refrained from responding to “openly boorish” actions by others.

The Biden administration last week imposed new sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and for involvement in the SolarWind hack of federal agencies — activities Moscow has denied. The U.S. ordered 10 Russian diplomats expelled, targeted dozens of companies and individuals, and imposed new curbs on Russia’s ability to borrow money.

Russia retaliated by ordering 10 U.S. diplomats to leave, blacklisting eight current and former U.S. officials, and tightening requirements for U.S. Embassy operations.

“Russia has its own interests, which we will defend in line with the international law,” Putin said during Wednesday’s address. “If somebody refuses to understand this obvious thing, is reluctant to conduct a dialogue and chooses a selfish and arrogant tone, Russia will always find a way to defend its position.”

In an emotional outburst, Putin chastised the West for acquiring a defiant stance toward Russia.

“Some countries have developed a nasty habit of bullying Russia for any reason or without any reason at all. It has become a new sport,” he said.

In an apparent reference to the U.S. allies, he compared them to Tabaqui, a cowardly golden jackal kowtowing to Shere Khan, the tiger in Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book.” “They howl to please their lord,” he said.

Russia this week engaged in a tense tug-of-war with the Czech Republic, following Prague’s move to expel 18 Russian diplomats over a massive Czech ammunition depot explosion in 2014. Moscow has dismissed the Czech accusations of its involvement in the blast as absurd and retaliated by expelling 20 Czech diplomats.

Putin also harshly criticized the West for failing to condemn what he described as a botched coup attempt and a failed plot to assassinate Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko, allegedly involving a blockade of the country’s capital, power cuts and cyberattacks. Belarusian and Russian security agencies arrested the alleged coup plotters in Moscow earlier this month.

“The practice of organizing coups and planning political assassinations of top officials goes over the top and crosses all boundaries,” Putin said, drawing parallels to plots against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the popular protests that led to the ouster of Ukraine’s former Russia-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014.

Russia responded to Yanukovych’s ouster by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and throwing its support to the separatists in the country’s east. Since then, fighting there has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated the industrial heartland.

Putin dedicated most of his annual address to domestic issues, hailing the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He said the quick development of three coronavirus vaccines underlined Russia’s technological and industrial potential. He called for a quicker pace of immunizations, voicing hope the country could achieve collective immunity this fall.

He put forward incentives to help the economy recover from the pandemic and promised new social payments focusing on families with children.

Associated Press writers Daria Litvinova and Jim Heintz in Moscow and Irina Titova in St. Petersburg contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Feds sue operator of dog breeding facility, seize beagles

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Federal officials have accused a company that runs a Virginia facility breeding dogs for research of violating animal welfare law and recently seized at least 145 beagles found to be in “acute distress,” according to a lawsuit filed Thursday. The Envigo RMS facility in Cumberland County has been under increasing scrutiny […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

After string of adventures, ancient gold ring back in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A more than 3,000-year-old gold signet ring that was stolen from an Aegean island in World War II, crossed the Atlantic, was bought by a Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian scientist and ended up in a Swedish museum has found its way back to Greece. It was the latest in a series of […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Netflix pays $59 million to settle tax dispute in Italy

MILAN (AP) — Netflix has agreed to pay more than 55.8 million euros ($59 million) and set up a legal entity in Italy to settle a tax dispute, Milan prosecutors said Friday. The payment covers taxes, penalties and interest from October 2015 through 2019. The streaming service also established an Italian subsidiary this year, which […]
1 day ago
President Joe Biden exits Air Force One as he arrives at Osan Air Base, Friday, May 20, 2022, in Py...
Associated Press

Secret Service workers for Biden Asia trip sent home

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Two U.S. Secret Service employees in South Korea to prepare for President Joe Biden’s visit have been sent home after being involved in a confrontation with locals that led to a police investigation. An agent and an armed physical security specialist were involved in the alcohol-fueled incident that included a […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

India accuses China of illegal construction in border area

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Friday objected to China’s construction of a second bridge across disputed Pangong Lake, an area it said has been under the “illegal occupation” of China since the 1960s. India’s challenge comes amid a two-year-old standoff involving thousands of soldiers from the two countries that has sometimes led to deadly […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Toddler dies after being found in vehicle at Tenn. daycare

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A 1-year-old child has died after being found in a hot vehicle outside a Tennessee daycare center, police said. The toddler was pronounced dead at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital on Thursday afternoon shortly after being found in the vehicle, Memphis police said in a tweet. The daycare, Education is the Key […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Putin vows a ‘quick and tough’ Russian response for its foes