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Tags: putin | russia | ukraine | peace

Putin: No Peace in Ukraine Until Goals Are Achieved

Thursday, 14 December 2023 07:18 AM EST

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday that there would be no peace in Ukraine until his goals are achieved and said those objectives remain unchanged at a year-end news conference that offers the leader an opportunity to reinforce his grip on power.

Giving rare detail on what Moscow calls its special military operation, Putin dismissed the need for a second wave of mobilization of reservists to fight in Ukraine — a move that proved deeply unpopular in the past. He said there are some 617,000 Russian soldiers currently there, including around 244,000 troops who were called up to fight alongside professional Russian military forces.

The Russian president, who has held power for nearly 24 years and announced recently he is running for reelection, was greeted with applause as he arrived in the hall in central Moscow.

Putin did not hold his traditional press conference last year after his military failed to take Kyiv and as the Ukrainian army retook swaths of territory in the east and south of the country.

But with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy now forced to plead for more U.S aid, a stalling counteroffensive and reports of fracturing Western support for Ukraine, the Russian president has decided to face the media once more — though the broadcast remains heavily choreographed and more about spectacle than scrutiny.

This year, ordinary citizens have the chance to phone in questions along with those asked by journalists, and Russians have been submitting queries for Putin for two weeks. It is the first time the Russian leader, who has heavily limited his interaction with foreign media, will potentially face multiple questions from Western journalists since the fighting in Ukraine began.

The press conference opened with questions about the conflict in Ukraine and highlighted concerns some Russians have about fears of another wave of mobilization. In September 2022 Putin ordered a partial military call-up as he tried to boost his forces in Ukraine, sparking protests.

“There is no need,” for mobilization now, Putin said, because 1,500 men are being recruited into the Russian army every day across the country. He said, as of Wednesday evening, a total of 486,000 soldiers have signed a contract with the Russian military.

Putin reiterated that Moscow’s goals in Ukraine — “de-Nazification, de-militarization and a neutral status” of Ukraine — remain unchanged.

He spelled out those loosely defined objectives the day he sent troops to the country in February 2022.

“De-Nazification” refers from Russia’s allegations that the Ukrainian government is heavily influenced by radical nationalist and neo-Nazi groups — claims derided by Kyiv and the West.

Putin has also demanded that Ukraine remain neutral — and not join the NATO alliance.

“There will be peace when we will achieve our goals,” Putin said, repeating a frequent Kremlin line.

Putin’s last news conference was in 2021 amid U.S warnings that Russia was on the brink of sending troops into Ukraine. He delayed his annual state-of-the-nation address was until February of this year.

Putin's appearance is primarily aimed at a domestic audience and is a chance for him to personally resolve the problems of ordinary Russian citizens ahead of the March 17 election.

Putin fielded questions Thursday from a group of children in Russian-annexed Crimea concerned about the leaking roof and mold in their sports hall and a woman who addressed “my favorite president,” to complain about the spiking price of eggs.

“I regret and apologize about that. A glitch in the work of the government” Putin told her, explaining that egg production has not matched demand and blaming the government for not increasing imports quickly enough.

State media said that as of Wednesday, about 2 million questions for Putin had been submitted ahead of the broadcast.

Journalists lined up for hours in freezing temperatures to get into the venue and some donned traditional dress, including elaborate hats in order to catch Putin's attention. Many journalists also hold placards, prompting the Kremlin to limit the size of signs they can carry during the news conference, which often lasts about four hours.

Attendees must test for COVID-19 and flu before entering the news conference site. Putin enforced strict quarantine for visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Newsfront
Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday that there would be no peace in Ukraine until his goals are achieved and said those objectives remain unchanged at a year-end news conference that offers the leader an opportunity to reinforce his grip on power. Giving rare...
putin, russia, ukraine, peace
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2023-18-14
Thursday, 14 December 2023 07:18 AM
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