Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Extended Boards of Interior Ministry on February 26, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual State of the Nation speech, warned on Wednesday against provoking his country, promising a swift retaliation against anyone who crossed “red lines.”

Moscow will respond “harshly,” “quickly” and “asymmetrically” to foreign provocations, Putin told an audience of Russia’s top officials and lawmakers, adding that he “hoped” no foreign actor would cross Russia’s “red lines,” according to a Reuters translation.

Putin also touted the country’s planned investment in expanded military education, hypersonic weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. But he also stressed that Russia wants peace and arms control agreements.

The 68-year-old leader condemned what he described as the constant tendency of international actors to blame Russia for wrongdoing, saying it had become like a sport.

The comments came in the final half hour of the 90-minute speech, which was predominantly focused on Russia’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic and domestic economic and social issues.

The speech came against the backdrop of deteriorating tensions with the U.S. and EU, and follows the recent imposition of sanctions on Russia from the Biden administration over alleged cyberattacks, human rights violations and a Russian military buildup along the border with Ukraine.

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