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Putin warns in opposition to crossing Russia's "crimson strains" and talks about army progress

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the expanded interior ministries in Moscow on February 26, 2020.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against provoking his country in his annual state of the nation speech on Wednesday and promised swift retaliation against anyone who crossed "red lines".

Moscow will react "harshly", "quickly" and "asymmetrically" to foreign provocations, Putin told an audience of top Russian officials and lawmakers, adding that he "hoped" that no foreign actor would cross Russia's "red lines", according to Reuters Translation.

Putin also extolled the country's planned investment in advanced military training, hypersonic weapons and ICBMs. But he also stressed that Russia wants peace and arms control agreements.

The 68-year-old head of state condemned what he called the constant tendency of international actors to blame Russia for wrongdoing and said it had become like a sport.

The comments came in the last half hour of the 90-minute speech, which mainly focused on Russia's fight against the coronavirus pandemic, as well as domestic economic and social issues.

The speech took place against the background of worsening tensions with the US and the EU and follows the recent imposition of sanctions against Russia by the Biden government for alleged cyber attacks, human rights violations and a Russian military build-up along the border with Ukraine.

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