Almost 1,500 reportedly detained as Putin warns West of 'red line'

Almost 1,500 reportedly detained as Putin warns West of 'red line'

Ahead of last week's sanctions, President Joe Biden suggested holding a face-to-face meeting with Putin in the coming months.

Moscow has said troops are running military drills in response to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation manoeuvres, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday ordered the troops to return to their permanent bases by May 1.

While saying he did not want to "burn bridges" in the worldwide community, Putin did say he would defend his country's interests.

But the Russian leader said that if Zelensky hoped to resolve problems stemming from fighting in eastern Ukraine, then he should first meet with leaders of the breakaway regions in Donetsk and Lugansk.

The day before Mr Putin pulled his troops out he warned the West of unspecified "red lines" and said it would come to regret crossing them as it "never regretted anything else before". He says the case is politically motivated.

Last week, Washington tightened sanctions on Russian Federation over accusations of computer hacking and election interference, and the Czech Republic accused Moscow of a role in explosions at an arms depot in 2014.

The Russian leader did however hit out at rivals overseas, with Moscow and Western capitals at loggerheads over a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine's borders and a series of espionage scandals that have resulted in diplomatic expulsions.

In an apparent reference to the US allies, he compared them to Tabaqui, a cowardly golden jackal kowtowing to Shere Khan, the tiger in Rudyard Kipling's "Jungle Book". In response, Russian Federation put its own penalties on the U.S., including sending 10 diplomats home and restricting the way the U.S. Embassy can operate in Russian Federation.

In his words, the subject of such negotiations could be the creation of an environment of conflict-free coexistence based on the security equation, which would encompass not only traditional strategic weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, heavy bombers and submarines, but also all offensive and defensive systems capable of solving strategic tasks.

Putin also harshly criticized the West for failing to condemn what he described as a botched coup attempt and a failed plot to assassinate Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko, allegedly involving a blockade of the country's capital, power cuts and cyberattacks.

Navalny's allies vowed to continue their work despite the pressure. "If somebody refuses to understand this obvious thing, is reluctant to conduct a dialogue and chooses a selfish and arrogant tone, Russian Federation will always find a way to defend its position". In his speech, he denounced foreign governments' alleged attempts to impose their will on Russian Federation. He noted Russia's fast development of vaccines against COVID-19 and put forward economic plans aimed at helping the country recover from the pandemic.

The Russian leader has urged authorities to quicken the pace of the country's vaccination programme, which has been slow compared with the West.

And a top aide said Wednesday night's protests seemed to have brought a compromise from Russian authorities on getting Navalny the medical help he had demanded when launching the hunger strike.

Vladimir Isachenkov wrote this story for the Associated Press.

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