- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 20, 2014

Russian president Vladimir Putin called for a revamping of Russia’s secret services in a letter published on Saturday.

The Kremlin called for improvements to tackle “modern challenges and threats and the emergence of new destabilizing factors,” Reuters reported.

Mr. Putin, a former KGB agent, said that key tasks for Russia’s secret service were to fight international terrorism and “any attempts of foreign special services to deal a blow to Russia (and) her political and economic interests,” Reuters reported.

The Russian president warned that Moscow will not be intimidated by new U.S. sanctions over its actions in Ukraine and Crimea, as his foreign ministry works to plan a strategy for retaliation.

“Obviously, no one will succeed in intimidating us, to deter, to isolate Russia,” Mr. Putin said speaking at a concert honoring past and present security service staff.

“It is sad that the countries which call themselves democratic resort to such methods in the 21st century,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. Russia said the new western sanctions levied Saturday were a “collective punishment’ against residents in Crimea who had voted in a March referendum to join Russia.

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