On Thursday, the Kremlin organized a traditional “dialogue” between Vladimir Putin and the nation, combining this event with a “big press conference” summing up the outgoing year. Putin cited, among other things, the number of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine and said that the goals of the special operation – as the Kremlin calls aggression against a neighboring country – “have not changed.” – Let me remind you what I talked about earlier: about the denazification of Ukraine, about demilitarization, about its neutral status – he said.
When Vladimir Putin started speaking at the Guest Court in central Moscow after 12 p.m. local time (10 a.m. in Poland), in Ukraine an air raid alarm was announced. The reason was MiG fighters taking off from Russian airports, which could carry Kindzhal hypersonic missiles.
An important element of preparations for the elections
This year, the traditional “Putin dialogue with the people” was combined with a large press conference, during which the leader answers questions from journalists.
The independent Russian-language website The Moscow Times recalled that last year in which Russia launched armed aggression against Ukraine, there was no live conversation between Vladimir Putin and his compatriots. The Moscow Times considered this year’s event to be an important element of the leader’s preparations for elections presidential elections in 2024.
The first question asked to Putin in the studio was about this. When asked what tasks would be most important to him as a candidate in next year’s elections, he replied: “strengthening Russia’s sovereignty, border security, ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens.”
When will there be peace?
The first question asked via video link as part of the “dialogue” with Putin was asked – as reported by the propaganda agency RIA Novosti – from the front line. Participant of the “special operation” Sergei Sobolev asked about veterans war in Ukraine after its completion, they could educate the younger generation in Russia and prepare further soldiers for the Russian army. Putin replied that this would be “very desirable.”
As expected, much of Putin’s speech on Thursday focused on Ukraine and the war. The president said that peace will prevail “when Russia achieves the goals of the special operation.” Special operation is a term coined by the Kremlin and referring to armed aggression.
As Putin said, the goals of the operation “do not change.” – Let me remind you what I talked about earlier: about the denazification of Ukraine, about demilitarization, about its neutral status – he announced.
When asked about the second wave of mobilization, he replied that “there is no need to carry it out.” He said that there are 617,000 Russian soldiers in the “special operation” zone and the front line is two thousand kilometers long.
– The position of the Russian armed forces in the special operations zone along the entire front line is, to put it modestly, improving, he added.
The role of a “good ruler”
During “talks with the nation,” Putin usually plays the role of a “good ruler” and hands out gifts in response to requests from Russian residents, for example promising to provide free gas to retirees or repair a village school, wrote The Moscow Times.
This year’s “dialogue” is Putin’s 20th during his rule (also when he was prime minister). The longest “dialogue” lasted in 2013 – over 4.5 hours.
The Moscow Times, Interfax, RIA Novosti
Main photo source: ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/PAP/EPA