With Navatny dead does Putin have any Red Lines?
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Issue Net Edition | Date : 22 Apr , 2024

Vladimir Putin’s “Red Line” to Western Powers​

In April 2021 Russian President Vladimir Putin sternly warned the West against encroaching further on Russia’s security interests, saying Moscow’s response will be “quick and tough” and make the culprits feel bitterly sorry for their actions. The warning came during Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation address amid a massive Russian military buildup near Ukraine, where cease-fire violations in the seven-year conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have escalated in recent weeks. The United States and its allies have urged the Kremlin to pull the troops back. “I hope that no one dares to cross the red line concerning Russia, and we will determine where it is in each specific case,” Putin said. “Those who organize any provocations threatening our core security interests will regret their deeds more than they regretted anything for a long time.”

Moscow rejects Western Concern Regarding Ukraine

Moscow has rejected Ukrainian and Western concerns about the troop buildup, saying it doesn’t threaten anyone and Russia is free to deploy its forces on its territory. But the Kremlin also has warned Ukraine against trying to use force to retake control of the rebel-held east, saying Russia could be forced to intervene to protect civilians in the region. “We really don’t want to burn the bridges,” Putin said. “But if some mistake our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intend to burn or even blow up those bridges themselves, Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, quick, and tough.” 

Putin Declares Russia’s Intention to Modernize its Nuclear Arsenals

In his speech, Putin pointed to Russia’s moves to modernize its nuclear arsenals and said the military would continue to procure a growing number of state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles and other new weapons. He added that the development of the nuclear-armed Poseidon underwater drone and the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile is continuing successfully. In an apparent reference to the U.S. and its allies, the Russian leader denounced those who impose “unlawful, politically motivated economic sanctions and crude attempts to enforce its will on others.” He said Russia has shown restraint and often refrained from responding to “openly boorish” actions by others. The U.S. ordered 10 Russian diplomats expelled, targeted dozens of companies and individuals, and imposed new curbs on Russia’s ability to borrow money. Russia retaliated by ordering 10 U.S. diplomats to leave, blacklisting eight current and former U.S. officials, and tightening requirements for U.S. Embassy operations. “Russia has its interests, which we will defend in line with the international law,” Putin said during Wednesday’s address. “If somebody refuses to understand this obvious thing, is reluctant to conduct a dialogue and chooses a selfish and arrogant tone, Russia will always find a way to defend its position.”

Putin Chastises the West for taking Defiant Stance Towards Russia 

In an emotional outburst, Putin chastised the West for taking a defiant stance toward Russia. In an apparent reference to the U.S. allies, he compared them to Tabaqui, a cowardly golden jackal kowtowing to Shere Khan, the tiger in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. “They howl to please their lord,” he said. Russia this week engaged in a tense tug-of-war with the Czech Republic following Prague’s move to expel 18 Russian diplomats over a massive Czech ammunition depot explosion in 2014. Moscow has dismissed the Czech accusations and retaliated by expelling 20 Czech diplomats. 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’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, allegedly involving a blockade of the country’s capital, power cuts, and cyberattacks.”The practice of organizing coups and planning political assassinations of top officials goes over the top and crosses all boundaries,” Putin said, drawing parallels to plots against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the popular protests that led to the ouster of Ukraine’s former Russia-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014. Russia responded to Yanukovych’s ouster by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and throwing its support to the separatists in the country’s east. Fighting there has since killed more than 14,000 people and devastated the industrial heartland.  

Is there any Rationale for Putin’s “Red Line” now with no Opposition?

In February this year and opposition leader Navalny died, does Putin have any red lines? There is alarm about the Kremlin’s recklessness but, after two years of war, sanctions are struggling and faith in Ukraine’s ability to defeat Russia is ebbing • Katherine Butler. If the death of Alexei Navalny was a shocking message from Vladimir Putin to the already cowed Russian opposition, it has dramatically refocused Europe’s attention on the war in Ukraine and the threat Putin represents beyond Russia’s borders. Outrage is matched by a new sense of alarm. Not only does Putin appear unassailable in a Russia where the space for dissent has shrunk to nothing. But Navalny’s treatment suggests that Putin has no red lines as he seeks to win in Ukraine – which he now regards as a war with the West. Navalny’s widow, Yulia, took her husband’s struggle directly to Europe’s leaders and the global defense community in Munich and Brussels. Her moral authority probably influenced the tone of a joint EU statement pinning Navalny’s death on Putin. 

EU Sanctions against Russia Continues​

Beyond accusing him of “slow murder” and summoning Russia’s diplomats, however, Europe has little obvious leverage. Germany has proposed new EU sanctions. But 12 rounds of EU sanctions have already been imposed since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and a 13th round was approved recently. The UK is including bosses of the Arctic penal colony where Navalny died in its sanctions package. Critics say such measures have proved symbolic and easy to dodge: efforts to make Russia an international pariah have had limited success. Could a sense of Western panic about Ukraine’s defeat in the wake of Navalny’s death translate into more urgency – and unity – about arming Ukraine? Russia made its biggest battlefield gain since May last weekend with the fall of the city of Avdiivka. Ukraine blames its allies’ failure to supply it with enough ammunition and weapons to halt Russia’s progress. Putin by contrast has turned Russia into a “Kalashnikov economy”. Relentless propaganda ensures he controls the war message within Russia. A new 10-year bilateral security pact with Ukraine underlines the shift in Berlin’s direction. 

Western Coalition Split on Support for Ukraine

Yet, Olaf Scholz’s coalition is split over sending Taurus long-range cruise missiles, which could allow Ukraine to strike behind Russia’s lines. Germany and France are also not seeing eye to eye on how to manage support for Ukraine. French officials told Patrick Wintour that poor coordination and incompatibility were bigger problems than the “billions” spent on weapons. Worryingly for those who believe that arming Ukraine is the best hope of stopping Putin, there has been a significant shift in European public sentiment about the war. 


According to exclusive new survey data, barely 10% now believe Ukraine can defeat Russia militarily. A “compromise settlement” is seen as the conflict’s most likely outcome. A year ago, most people said Ukraine must regain all its territory.  Sheer fatigue, low morale, and trepidation is the present situation in Ukraine. More than 6.4 million Ukrainians fled the country in search of safety and 3.4 million are internally displaced. There was little love lost between Alexei Navalny and Ukraine, where his failure to condemn the annexation of Crimea drew anger. But an analyst argued for Guardian opinion that the Russian opposition’s greatest hope could lie in Ukraine. Putin’s ruthlessness at home and his aggression abroad are difficult to fathom on his next move and how he intends to wrap up the Pandoras Box. 

Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Kazi Anwarul Masud

former Ambassador and Secretary in the Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh.

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left