Putin says Russia needs strong military to fend off threats near its borders

President Vladimir Putin says Russia needs a powerful military to fend off threats near its borders, a statement that reflects tensions with the West over the Ukrainian crisis.

Speaking at Thursday's Kremlin meeting with graduates of Russian military academies, Putin said that a "powerful army equipped with modern weapons is the guarantor of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia."

He vowed to continue a sweeping military modernization effort that envisages procurement of large numbers of new weapons.

Putin added that Russia has no aggressive intentions and aims to "settle any disputes exclusively by political means with respect to international law and interests of other nations."

Russia-West relations have sunk to post-Cold War lows after Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.