Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday Russia would “knock the teeth out” of everyone who tries to take a “bite” out of his country’s vast territory.
“Everyone wants to bite us somewhere or to bite off something from us. But they — those who are going to do it — should know that we will knock their teeth out so that they cannot bite. This is quite obvious, and the key to this is the development of our armed forces,” Putin said during a televised virtual meeting of Russia’s National Security Council on May 20.
“But I want to stress once again that we are not following the path of militarizing our economy,” he added:
“No matter what we do, no matter how we strive to satisfy the appetites of those who are trying to restrain us, all the same, the restrictive policy will continue because many of our opponents, as we shall call them, simply do not need a country like Russia,” Putin said during the meeting, as quoted by the Russian state-controlled TV network Ruptly. He added, “But we need it, our people need it, the citizens of the Russian federation [need it]. We will do everything not only to preserve it, but also to consolidate and strengthen it.”
“Putin also said that Western sanctions against Russia are continuing a longtime historic trend of containing a powerful rival and alleged that some critics of Moscow whom he didn’t name have argued that it’s unfair for Russia to keep its vast natural riches all to itself,” according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
“Even after we lost one-third of our potential, Russia is still too big for some,” Putin said, referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which saw former Soviet republics gain independence.
Western countries, including the U.S. and European Union (E.U.) member states, have regularly imposed and extended sanctions on Russia for the past six years. Reasons for the sanctions include Russia’s colonization of Crimea out of Ukraine in 2014 and a long list of human rights abuses against its own people. In April, Washington announced a wide range of sanctions against Moscow for its alleged “harmful foreign activities,” including its “ongoing occupation and repression in Crimea.”
Putin’s remarks on Thursday came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke at an Arctic Council meeting in Reykjavik, which Russia chaired this year.
“The Arctic is a region for strategic competition that has seized the world’s attention,” Blinken said on May 20.
“But the Arctic is more than a strategically or economically significant region. It’s home to our people, its hallmark has been and must remain peaceful cooperation. It’s our responsibility to protect that peaceful cooperation and to build on it,” he added.
Blinken “stressed the importance of enacting ‘effective governance and the rule of law’ to ensure that the ‘Arctic remains a region free of conflict where countries act responsibly,’” according to Reuters.
Three Russian submarines “broke through Arctic ice during a military exercise in late March – a sophisticated maneuver designed to show its attempts to beef up military defenses in the region,” the news agency noted.
Russia has made a concerted effort to increase its military and trade capabilities in the Arctic in recent years as the Kremlin believes that melting Arctic ice, allegedly caused by climate change, has opened up new pathways of opportunity in the region.