Coming off the recently renewed 'Ukraine crisis' - which was calmed only after late last month Russia ordered its tens of thousands of additional forces built up in Crimea and near Donbass back to their home bases - Vladimir Putin gave a rare bellicose speech to a meeting of top Russian officials wherein he warned the West and "foreign foes" that Moscow would "knock their teeth out" if they attempt to peel away pieces of Russia's huge territory.
“In all times, the same thing happened: once Russia grew stronger, they found pretexts to hamper its development," Putin said. He didn't name specific 'enemy' countries, but it came in the context of the Russian leader discussing wars over resources, and the country's ability to look out for itself and its own population first.
"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 couldn't bite," Putin emphasized. "The development of our military is the guarantee of that."
During the remarks he also quoted Czar Alexander III, saying that "everyone is afraid of our vastness" while explaining, "Even after we lost one-third of our potential, Russia is still too big for some" - a reference to the fall of the Soviet Union and the creation of independent Republics along Russia's borders.
He did make passing reference to the United States at one point in the speech, making the case that Russia has closed the defense readiness gap with the US by focusing on advances like hypersonic weapons and modernizing its nuclear deterrent:
He noted that Russia this year is set to spend an equivalent of $42 billion on defense, compared to the Pentagon's budget topping $700 billion.
"We have managed to support our armed forces without militarizing the state budget, and we will continue doing so," Putin said.
Presumably he's implying that Washington indeed has - an indirect reference to the vast power and reaches of the military-industrial complex in American politics.
Putin: Everyone wants to "bite" us, or "bite off" something from us...— Vera Van Horne (@VeraVanHorne) May 20, 2021
But, those who are going to do this should know that we would knock their teeth out, so that they are not able to bite at all.
Unlike Lavrov, Putin is not a diplomat😁
The speech also appears a warning related to NATO encroachment, particularly as after the past two months both Kiev and Washington have renewed their rhetoric of support for Ukraine's entry into NATO. It also came amid multiple simmering unresolved territorial disputes including in the Caucasus: for example Abkhazia in Georgia and Transnistria in Moldova, and the ongoing South Ossetia, Crimea, and Donbass tensions with Western allied states.