Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out Thursday at the United States and its European allies, saying Western sanctions for Russia’s annexation of Crimea were just an excuse to weaken the country.

Delivering his annual state of the nation speech to legislators, Kremlin officials and other leaders on Thursday, Putin said the sanctions are not just a reaction of the U.S. and its allies over Russia’s response to the events and a coup in Ukraine.

“I am certain that if all this did not take place … they would come up with another reason to contain Russia’s growing capabilities, to influence it or, even better, use it for its own goals,” the Russian leader said.

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