Putin warns West not to provoke Russia

Moscow, Apr 21 (EFE).- Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said the West would “regret” any provocation against Moscow’s interests.

In his annual state of the nation address, Putin said the Kremlin’s “good intentions” should not be mistaken for weakness and said Russia was capable of responding to threats in an “asymmetrical, rapid and harsh” manner.

“They will regret it like never before,” he added. “Unfriendly acts against Russia are incessant. Attempts to accuse Russia for whatever motive, or no motive at all, has become a kind of sport for some countries.”

He warned the West not to cross “red lines.”

In his address, which was almost entirely dedicated to social issues this year, Putin openly accused the West of trying to organize a coup d’état against the long-serving Belarusian President and Moscow-ally Alexander Lukashenko last year.

“Attempts to organize coups d’état or to assassinate politicians . . . that’s crossed all the limits.”

He compared the alleged plans to overthrow Lukashenko to the 2014 revolution that ousted former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, which Moscow also regards as a coup.

Tensions between Russia and the West have been mounting in recent weeks due to fresh military posturing along the border of Ukraine and the deteriorating health of dissident politician Alexei Navalny, who was detained earlier this year following his return from Germany, where he had received treatment after he was poisoned in Russia.

United States President Joe Biden last week leveled fresh sanctions at Russia and expelled 10 Russian diplomats in response to Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2020 presidential elections. Putin replied in with tit-for-tat measures.

There was also a diplomatic fallout between Moscow and the Czech Republic, a European Union member, last week after Czech authorities named two alleged members of the Russian intelligence service as suspects in a sabotage attack on an arms depot in 2014.

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