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Putin vows ‘harsh’ response to anyone crossing Russia’s ‘red lines

President Vladimir Putin has warned Russia’s rival powers against threatening his country, vowing a tough response to anyone who crosses Moscow’s ‘red lines.’In his annual state-of-the-nation speech on Wednesday, Putin told an audience of top officials and lawmakers that he hoped no foreign actor would cross the red lines.He did not single out one rival. The president said Russia would decide where its red line lies on a case-by-case basis.The 68-year-old Russian leader said Moscow’s response to foreign provocations would be “harsh,” “quick” and “asymmetrical.”“They will regret it more than ever before.”Elsewhere in the speech, Putin praised Russia’s planned investment in expanded military education, hypersonic weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.But Russia wants peace and arms control agreements, he stressed simultaneously. Putin devoted most of the 90-minute speech to domestic issues.The speech came against the backdrop of Russia’s deteriorating relations with the United States and the European Union (EU).Washington recently imposed sanctions on Russia over alleged cyberattacks, human rights violations and activity in Ukraine.Russia on Tuesday restricted civilian flights over the Black Sea and the Crimean Peninsula, amid rising tensions with Ukraine and its Western supporters.NATO has increased activity near Russia’s border with Ukraine, prompting Moscow to build up presence of Russian troops in the region.The Kremlin has warned that the US and NATO are turning Ukraine into a “powder keg” by increasing arms supplies to Kiev and inflaming tensions in the country’s volatile east, where government forces are fighting ethnic Russians.Russia has warned that any attempt spearheaded by the West to start a new military conflict in Ukraine’s war-torn east would culminate in the destruction of Ukraine.Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame in recent weeks for a spike in violence in the Russian-speaking Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces have fought a conflict that has killed 14,000 people by Ukraine’s estimate since 2014.

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