President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Wednesday delivered an annual handle replete with threats towards the West however, regardless of intense tensions with Ukraine, stopped in need of saying new navy or international coverage strikes.
Russia’s response will likely be “uneven, quick and hard” whether it is compelled to defend its pursuits, Mr. Putin mentioned, pointing to what he claimed have been Western efforts at regime change in neighboring Belarus as one other menace to Russia’s safety.
He pledged that Russia “needs to have good relations with all contributors of worldwide society,” whilst he famous that Russia’s modernized nuclear weapons techniques have been on the prepared.
“The organizers of any provocations threatening the basic pursuits of our safety will remorse their deeds greater than they’ve regretted something in a very long time,” Mr. Putin instructed a corridor of governors and members of Parliament. “I hope nobody will get the thought to cross the so-called crimson line with Russia — and we would be the ones to determine the place it runs in each concrete case.”
Mr. Putin’s speech had been broadly anticipated, with about 100,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border and Ukraine’s president warning brazenly of the opportunity of conflict. Some analysts had speculated that Mr. Putin may use his annual state of the nation handle to announce a pretext for sending troops into Ukraine.
However that potential end result didn’t come to cross, whilst Russia’s huge navy presence close to Ukraine’s borders confirmed no signal of receding. Mr. Putin additionally made no reference to the jailed opposition chief Aleksei A. Navalny, whose supporters have been holding protests throughout the nation on Wednesday.
As an alternative, Mr. Putin spent most of his speech on home points, acknowledging Russians’ discontent with the hardships of the pandemic. He outlined applications to subsidize summer season camp for youngsters, clean the system for child-support funds to single moms and transfer extra social providers on-line.
Nonetheless, it was too early to inform whether or not Mr. Putin, 68, was pulling again from the brink. Now in his third decade in energy, he seems extra satisfied than ever of his particular, historic position as the daddy of a reborn Russian nation, combating at residence and overseas towards a craven, hypocritical, morally decaying West.
“This sense of superiority combined with conceitedness offers him a sense of energy, and that is harmful,” mentioned Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian analyst who has studied Mr. Putin for years. “Whenever you assume you’re extra highly effective and extra clever than everybody else round you, you assume you might have a sure historic mandate for extra wide-ranging motion.”
Mr. Putin has made strikes in latest weeks that, even by his requirements, sign an escalation in his battle with these he perceives as enemies, international and home. Russian prosecutors final week filed swimsuit to outlaw Mr. Navalny’s group, a step that might end in probably the most intense wave of political repression in post-Soviet Russia. And in Russia’s southwest, Mr. Putin has constructed up a navy drive, the Kremlin has indicated, that could be prepared to move into neighboring Ukraine.
In Washington, the Biden administration reacted mildly to Mr. Putin’s robust phrases.
“We don’t take something President Putin says personally,” Jen Psaki, the White Home press secretary, mentioned when requested for a response. “We’ve robust pores and skin.”
Requested if the sharpened rhetoric from Mr. Putin would have an effect on the prospects for a potential assembly with President Biden later this yr, Ms. Psaki mentioned discussions have been ongoing. “Clearly,” she mentioned, “it requires all events having an settlement that we’re going to have a gathering and we issued that invitation.”