He has ordered an enormous troop buildup on Russia’s border with Ukraine and has gone toe to toe with President Biden, who issued a new round of sanctions last week, undeterred by Mr. Putin’s saber rattling in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin portrayed Russia as harried by Western nations for years with hypocritical criticism and sanctions. Punishing Russia, he said, has become a “new sport” in the West, and he was running thin on patience.
While he pledged on Wednesday that he still wanted “good relations with all participants of international society,” he said that if Russia is forced to defend its interests from any security threats its response would be “fast and tough.”
But there were signs that a public wearied after two decades of Mr. Putin’s rule was increasingly tuning him out. That was evident on the streets of Russia’s cities Wednesday evening, as rallies to protest the prison treatment of the prominent opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny seemed to be mushrooming into something more.