MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Russia would never seek to start a confrontation with the West but that it will defend its own interests.

"We must decide for ourselves whether we are ready to stand up for our national interests. Or just carry on giving them away forever?" he asked a joint session of parliament.

"Some western politicians scare us not only with sanctions but also with the prospect of worsening internal problems. I would like to know what they mean," he said, adding Russia would never seek to start confrontation with the West.

"We consider such statements irresponsible and obviously aggressive and will respond appropriately to this."


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