Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Western powers Friday that the country's nuclear-armed military was ready to meet any aggression, and that other countries should understand “It's best not to mess with us.”
Putin made the comments during an appearance Friday at a pro-government youth camp. According to Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, Putin told the gathering that “Russia is far from getting involved in any large-scale conflicts. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.”
However, the Russian leader added: “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words. We are strengthening our nuclear deterrence forces and our armed forces.
“We must always be ready to repel any aggression against Russia and our partners should always be aware that no matter in which condition their governments may be or which foreign policy concepts they may pursue, it is better not to come against Russia as regards a possible armed conflict,” he said.
Reuters reports that When a student said that she had not heard a single negative comment about Putin's presidency from camp speakers, he responded with a grin that "objectivity" was important.
CNN reports that Putin's comments come the day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused NATO of using "images from computer games" to -- in his view -- falsely make the case that Russian troops are in Ukraine. Lavrov said "hiding the evidence is an outstanding characteristic of the U.S. and many EU countries" with regard to Ukraine.
NATO countries claim that Russia's military has crossed into Ukraine and is fighting in support of separatist rebels there. Russia denies the claims.
The National Post quotes White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Russia’s footprint was undeniable in Ukraine.
“We have regularly marshaled evidence to indicate what exactly is happening, despite the protestations of the Russian government that for some reason would have us all believe otherwise,” he said. “The fact is, those denials are completely without any credibility, and, you know, we’ve been pretty candid about that.”