MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin on Thursday joked with a schoolboy that Russia’s borders “don’t end anywhere”.
Putin was speaking at a televised awards ceremony held by the Russian Geographical Society. On stage Putin questioned Miroslav Oskirko, a nine-year-old prodigy who said he knew the borders of every country in the world.
Putin asked the boy where Russia’s borders ended, with Oskirko saying “Russia’s borders end at the Bering Strait with the United States”.
Hugging the boy by the shoulder, Putin corrected him: “Russia’s borders don’t end anywhere,” before adding: “That is a joke.”
His remarks prompted laughter in the audience, which included Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who heads the geographical society.
Putin’s remark was trending on Twitter later Thursday.
“An update from Putin: Russia’s borders don’t end anywhere!” wrote Interfax news agency on Twitter.
“Are we talking about culture here or the S-400?” Twitter user Dmitry Kasatkin wrote, referring to Russia’s most sophisticated air defence system, which has been deployed to Syria.
Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 by sending in thousands of special forces to take control of Ukrainian bases and holding a hastily organised referendum that was rejected by the international community.
The ex-Soviet republic of Georgia last year accused Moscow of “creeping annexation” of its territory after Russian border guards moved border markers deeper into Tbilisi-controlled territory.