Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has gone on record as saying that Russia’s borders “do not end anywhere.”
The controversial Russian figurehead made this scary, seemingly almost imperialistic comment during an awards ceremony for Russia’s Geographical Society in Moscow. The group – which is led by Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu – hosted an event in which young children showed off their knowledge of geography and international politics.
According to the Independent, Putin was seen asking a nine year old boy, “Where does Russia’s border end?” The child would respond that that western Russia’s border ended “at the Bering Strait with the United States.”
After quickly firing back that Russia’s borders “do not end anywhere,” the room filled with hearty applause and the boy smiled widely, beaming with what seemed to be nationalistic pride.
Vladimir Putin – who drew ire from the international community at large just about two and a half years ago for his invasion of Crimea – was quick to clarify to onlookers that “it was a joke.”
According to the BBC, Russia began occupying the Crimea region of the Ukraine in 2014 after infiltrating the area with “thousands of special forces.”
The move was seen by many as an attempt by Putin and Russian forces to seemingly further push back Russia’s border in addition to exerting more power over its neighbor. BBC at the time called Russia’s attempt a “hastily organised referendum that was rejected by the international community.”
More importantly, however, the move was considered an aggressive one designed to bolster Putin’s mindset that Russia’s borders truly should have no end.
“I would like to make it clear to all, [Russia] will continue to actively defend the rights of Russians [and] our compatriots abroad,” clarified Putin in a statement months after the decision. Putin noted that Russia fully planned on “using the entire range of available means – from political to economic to operations under international humanitarian law and the right of self defense.”
Despite the accusations of Western countries that Russia sent “regular troops” and “heavy weapons” to assist pro-Russia rebels in the Ukraine, Putin would, at the time, deny the claims, saying that the forces sent over were strictly “volunteers.”
Nevertheless, this decision by Putin and Russia was seen by many as an act of war, at worst, and a sign of Russia’s imperialistic designs, at best. The signs, even back then, seemed to point toward a Russia, as designed by Putin, as having no borders.
The news also comes less than a week after Putin criticized another government for not trusting him while flying over that country’s border.
As documented by the Inquisitr, Putin’s Presidential aircraft had to be “chased and escorted by fighter jets through Swiss airspace” over fear of Russia’s President’s motives.
While Switzerland’s decision is certainly understandable to overreact in light of Russia’s reputation, internationally, the lack of trust by Russia’s European neighbor is believed to have incensed Putin and other members of the former Soviet Union’s leadership.
In fact, per The Sun, Russia’s embassy in Switzerland demanded an explanation.
“[We] have expressed surprise and asked for explanations from Switzerland over the incident with the Russian government plane in the sky of the Confederation,” wrote the Russian embassy.
Ukraine, meanwhile, seemingly posted a humorous tongue-in-cheek response to Putin’s Russian nationalistic humor. Andrii Olefirov, the country’s ambassador to Finland, posted a picture of a run-down log cabin in the wilderness on his Twitter account.
His message from this social media post – translated into English courtesy of Independent – reads “Russia’s border ends nowhere.
The European Union, meanwhile, has come off as slightly less humorous, also per Independent. The governing body, just days ago, gave the nod to a new set of laws aimed at combating Russia’s form of “propaganda warfare.”
Clearly, nobody understands that Putin’s comment was “just a joke.”
[Featured Image by Adam Berry/Getty Images]