Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 26, 2021. (Photo by AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned against any foreign attempts to challenge the territorial integrity of Russia, threatening that the countries seeking to do so would have their teeth knocked out by Moscow.
Putin cautioned foreign countries on Thursday against considering hostile actions against Russia and said taking such a course of action would have serious consequences.
"Everyone wants to bite us or bite something off us, but those who would like to do so should know that we would knock their teeth out so that they couldnít bite," the Russian leader said during a virtual meeting with senior government officials.
Putin also said that a constant upgrading of Russian military forces is the key to the countryís victory should anyone try to test their luck by claiming Russian territory.
He made no specific reference to any countries or Russiaís adversaries in his speech, but he had previously ordered the government in a decree to prepare a list of "unfriendly" states that would be subject to restrictions due to their hostile actions against Moscow.
The Russian government officially announced last Friday that it deemed the US and the Czech Republic "unfriendly" countries, saying the two countries "commit unfriendly actions towards Russia, Russian citizens or Russian legal entities."
As a result, Moscow imposed restrictions on hiring local staffers by the US and Czech diplomatic missions. "The Czech Republic would be allowed to hire no more than 19 Russian nationals to work for its embassy, and the United States, not a single one."
Putinís remarks amid a push for a possible summit between him and his American counterpart, Joe Biden, aimed at mending ties between the two Cold War-era foes.
The Russian foreign minister said on Thursday that Russia has "significant differences" with the United States on how it views world affairs but is ready to discuss contentious issues with Washington based on honesty and mutual respect.
"We have significant differences in assessing the international situation, in approaches to the tasks that need to be solved to normalize it. Our position is very simple: we are ready to discuss any issues, without any exception, having an understanding that this discussion will be honest, with presented facts and of course, on the basis of mutual respect," Sergei Lavrov said.
Biden has said he would like to hold a summit with Putin during his trip to Europe in June, offering to meet in a third country to discuss rising tensions between Washington and Moscow.
Over the past six years, the US has imposed waves of sanctions against Russia, including over alleged meddling in its 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and the recent jailing of Western-backed blogger Alexei Navalny.
Relations between the two countries hit a new low in March after Biden said in an interview that he believed Putin was a "killer" and that the Russian president would have to "pay a price" for what he alleged was interference in the 2020 US presidential election. Moscow has denied such allegations.
More recently, tensions escalated between the two sides over the Russian-speaking Donbass region of Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces have been fighting since 2014.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow, however, denies the allegations.
US troops transfer from Afghanistan
On Thursday, the director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) expressed Moscowís concern about US efforts to deploy its troops withdrawn from Afghanistan to former Soviet republics.
Citing unidentified sources, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the United States may deploy troops withdrawn from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
"It is obvious that, when deciding to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the United States government would not want to lose control over this territory and has intentions to place at least some of the resources that they have today in Afghanistan, in neighboring countries," Sergei Naryshkin told reporters.
"We understand and even have information that such attempts are being made and will be made. And we very much hope that not only partners, but also allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization will not agree to this," the SVR director added, referring to a military alliance that consists of Russia and several post-Soviet states.
Under an agreement reached between the Taliban and the administration of former US president Donald Trump in Qatar last year, foreign forces were to have left Afghanistan by May 1.
The Trump administration pledged to withdraw US forces in exchange for the Taliban to stop their attacks on American troops.
Biden, however, pushed back the May 1 deadline, saying his administration would be completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The US attacked Afghanistan in 2001, claiming that the Taliban were harboring al-Qaeda. The invasion removed a Taliban regime from power but prompted widespread militancy and insecurity across the Asian country.
The war has taken countless lives, including of Afghan civilians.