President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Wednesday delivered an annual address replete with threats against the West but, despite intense tensions with Ukraine, stopped short of announcing new military or foreign policy moves.
Russia’s response will be “asymmetric, fast and tough” if it is forced to defend its interests, Mr. Putin said, pointing to what he claimed were Western efforts at regime change in neighboring Belarus as another threat to Russia’s security.
He pledged that Russia “wants to have good relations with all participants of international society,” even as he noted that Russia’s modernized nuclear weapons systems were at the ready.
“The organizers of any provocations threatening the fundamental interests of our security will regret their deeds more than they have regretted anything in a long time,” Mr. Putin told a hall of governors and members of Parliament. “I hope no one gets the idea to cross the so-called red line with Russia — and we will be the ones to decide where it runs in every concrete case.”
that could be prepared to move into neighboring Ukraine.
In Washington, the Biden administration reacted mildly to Mr. Putin’s tough words.
“We don’t take anything President Putin says personally,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said when asked for a response. “We have tough skin.”
Asked if the sharpened rhetoric from Mr. Putin would affect the prospects for a possible meeting with President Biden later this year, Ms. Psaki said discussions were ongoing. “Obviously,” she said, “it requires all parties having an agreement that we’re going to have a meeting and we issued that invitation.”