Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed his nation on Wednesday, talking mostly of domestic matters, such as the pandemic, climate change, infrastructure and income, trying to sound more like a fairly-elected president than a dictator.
While in the background, he was bullying the Ukraine, making “a show” of force by amassing troops at its borders, and hounding Aleksei Navalny, by filing a suit outlawing his organization (as he lie ill and possibly dying in prison after an extended hunger strike), no mention was made of such things in Putin’s speech. Perhaps he knows he would be better off accepting President Biden’s invitation to meet in pursuit of a peaceful co-existence, since he pledged that Russia “wants to have good relations with all participants of society.” However, he couldn’t help but make note that Russia’s modernized nuclear weapons systems were at the ready.
Much has been made of his so-called “threats” and “tough talk”, but he didn’t sound so threatening to me, seeing as he is who he is, and we’ve both done what we’ve done: “The organizers of any provocations threatening the fundamental interests of our security will regret their deeds more than they have regretted anything in a very long time,” 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.” So, I guess he decides what “the red line” is on the fly?
Apparently, Jen Psaki didn’t think it was so tough either, saying, “We don’t take anything President Putin says personally. We have tough skin.” When asked if Putin’s “sharpened rhetoric” would affect prospects for meeting with President Biden later this year, Psaki indicated discussions were ongoing. “Obviously, it requires all parties having an agreement that we’re going to have a meeting and we issued that invitation.”