MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian president Vladimir Putin Jupiter vowed to be There is no peace in Ukraine A year-end news conference provides the president with an opportunity to reinforce his authority until his goals are achieved and those goals remain unchanged.
Giving rare details about Moscow’s so-called special military operation, Putin dismissed the need for a second wave of mobilizing separatists to fight in Ukraine – which has proven highly unpopular in the past. He said there are currently about 617,000 Russian soldiers, including about 244,000 troops called up to fight alongside professional Russian military forces.
The Russian president, who has been in power for nearly 24 years, only recently announced Running for re-electionHe was greeted with applause when he arrived at the hall in central Moscow.
Putin did not hold his traditional press conference last year after his army failed to recapture Kyiv and the Ukrainian army retook territory in the east and south of the country.
But now with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky And forced to plead for American aidA stalling Counter attack and reports Breaking Western support As for Ukraine, the Russian president has decided to meet the media once again – although the broadcast is more choreographed and more about spectacle than scrutiny.
This year, ordinary citizens have the opportunity to telephone journalists with questions, and Russians have been submitting questions to Putin for two weeks. The Russian leader, who has largely limited his contacts with foreign media, is likely to face multiple questions from Western journalists for the first time since fighting in Ukraine began.
The press conference opened with questions about the conflict in Ukraine and raised concerns among some Russians about fears of another wave of mobilization. In September 2022, Putin ordered a partial military call-up as he tried to increase his forces in Ukraine. Incites protests.
“There is no need,” Putin said, to mobilize now, because 1,500 men are being recruited into the Russian army every day across the country. He said a total of 486,000 soldiers had signed contracts with the Russian military as of Wednesday evening.
Putin reiterated that Moscow’s goals in Ukraine — “Nazification, demilitarization and neutralization of Ukraine” — would remain unchanged.
He spelled out those loosely defined objectives on the day he sent troops into the country in February 2022.
“De-Nazification” refers to Russia’s accusations that the Ukrainian government has been heavily influenced by ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups — claims that are derided by Kiev and the West.
Putin has demanded that Ukraine remain neutral – not join NATO.
“There will be peace when we achieve our goals,” Putin said, often repeating a Kremlin line.
Putin’s last press conference in 2021 came amid US warnings that Russia was on the verge of sending troops into Ukraine. He delayed his annual State of the Union address Until February this year.
Putin’s appearance is aimed primarily at a domestic audience and is an opportunity for him to personally address the issues of ordinary Russian citizens ahead of the March 17 election.
Putin fielded questions on Thursday from a group of children in Russia-annexed Crimea, who complained about a leaking roof and mold in their playground, and a girl who addressed him as “my favorite president” about rising egg prices.
“I regret it and apologize. It was a glitch in the government’s work,” Putin told her, saying egg production was not matching demand and blaming the government for not increasing imports more quickly.
As of Wednesday, state media reported that about 2 million questions for Putin had been submitted ahead of the broadcast.
Journalists queued for hours in the freezing cold to enter the arena and wore some traditional attire, including elaborate hats, to catch Putin’s attention. Many journalists hold signs, prompting the Kremlin to limit the amount of signs they can carry during news conferences, which often last four hours.
Attendees will be screened for Covid-19 and flu before entering the news conference site. Putin implemented Strict quarantine for visitors During the Covid-19 pandemic.
This story has been updated to correct that 244,000 is the number of troops called up for combat, not the total number of troops in Ukraine.
Associated Press writers Emma Burrows in London and Tasha Litvinova in Tallinn, Estonia contributed to this report.