Vladimir Putin stood in a vindictive posture Wednesday during his annual speech to the Russian political elite. But, in a context of more strained relations than ever with Ukraine and the West, he has not announced any shattering foreign policy decisions. “The organizers of provocations against Russia will regret it as they have never regretted anything,” said the man who has led his country for twenty-one years.
In the five minutes devoted to foreign policy out of a total of one hour and ten minutes, the Russian president has not once mentioned the Donbass – where shells are raining – nor Ukraine, on whose borders he has amassed, in recent weeks, an armada of more than 130,000 soldiers. This does not prevent him from taking on the role of the victim. “We behave in a restrained and modest manner. A lot of times we don’t respond to profanity. We want good relations. We do not want to burn bridges ”. With limits all the same: “I hope that no one will think of crossing the so-called“ red lines ”against Russia, which we will define ourselves in each separate situation. Russia’s response will be asymmetric, swift and brutal. ”