Putin Vows To "Knock Out The Teeth" of foreign enemies as US and Russia clash at Arctic summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to 'knock the teeth out' of foreign enemies who try to bite off pieces of the country's vast territory after Washington and Moscow clashed at the Arctic Summit on Thursday. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov that the North Pole must remain 'free of conflict' at the tense summit. 

Blinken stressed the importance of upholding 'effective governance and the rule of law' to ensure that the 'Arctic remains a region free of conflict where countries act responsibly.' 

Lavrov hit back saying Moscow saw 'no grounds' for conflict in the Arctic but warned the West about militarising on Russia's doorstep.  

The two sides have recently increased their military posturing, with the United States sending bombers to Norway and Russia conducting large maritime and air exercises.     

Several other foreign ministers, including those from Canada, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden, echoed Blinken's call to keep the Arctic peaceful and free of conflict under the authority of international, rather than that of individual countries.  

'We have highlighted at the meeting that we see no grounds for conflict here. Even more so for any development of military programmes of some blocks here,' Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters at the close of an Arctic Council meeting in Iceland today.

'And we are satisfied to note that our partners agree with us on this,' he said, as Moscow took over the two-year rotating chairmanship of the forum that also includes the United States and six other countries bordering the Arctic.

Blinken echoed Lavrov's statements, but repeatedly stressed the importance of 'peaceful cooperation' in the Arctic region.  

He said: 'The Arctic is a region for strategic competition that has seized the world's attention,

'But the Arctic is more than a strategically or economically significant region. It's home to our people, its hallmark has been and must remain peaceful cooperation. It's our responsibility to protect that peaceful cooperation and to build on it.' 

Despite largely consensual remarks from the foreign ministers at the meeting and pledges of US-Russian 'cooperation' in the region, Lavrov drew some clear lines, reflecting the mounting geopolitical stakes in the vast territory.

He said he would discuss directly Thursday with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide Oslo's moves to 'reinforce [its] military presence close to our borders'.

Lavrov accused NATO of putting US troops on 'constant rotation' in Europe to avoid 'permanent' deployments, barred under agreements governing relations between NATO and the West.

During their first meeting under the new US administration, Lavrov on Wednesday warned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken against any deployment of additional forces in Poland, noting that doing so would violate the 1997 treaty on relations between Russia and NATO.

'We are going to undertake necessary measures in order to ensure our security,' Lavrov stressed Thursday.

Clearly keen to maintain a tone of cooperation and appeasement, he swiftly added: 'But our priority and our preference really is dialogue. And that is exactly what we discussed yesterday with Antony Blinken.'   

Putin warned the West over 'biting off' areas Moscow deems Russian territory in a meeting with officials on Thursday.

He said: '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... The development of our military is the guarantee of that.'   

The Kremlin has made the modernisation of the country's armed forces a top priority amid tensions in relations with the US and its allies.

Putin said that Western sanctions against Russia are continuing a longtime historic trend of containing a powerful rival, citing Russian Czar Alexander III who charged that 'everyone is afraid of our vastness.'

'Even after we lost one-third of our potential' when former Soviet republics became independent after the 1991 collapse of Soviet collapse, 'Russia is still too big for some,' Putin said. 

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