Putin: Russia’s goals in Ukraine unchanged, no peace until they’re achieved | Russia-Ukraine war News #Putin #Russias #goals #Ukraine #unchanged #peace #theyre #achieved #RussiaUkraine #war #News

The Russian president holds first end-of-year news conference since the Ukraine war began.

Russia’s goals in Ukraine remain unchanged and there will be no peace until they are achieved, President Vladimir Putin has said in his first end-of-year news conference since the offensive began.

The event on Thursday comes days after Putin announced that he will run in the March 2024 presidential election, in which the 71-year-old leader is almost certain to win a fifth term. He has been in power for 24 years, including his prime ministerial stint, and a win next year will see him remain president until 2030.

Fielding questions from the public and the media in Moscow, the Russian leader said peace will be possible after “denazification, demilitarisation and a neutral status” of Ukraine – something he has repeated since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia alleges that Ukraine’s government is heavily influenced by “radical nationalist” and neo-Nazi groups, something Kyiv and the West dispute. Putin has also consistently demanded that Ukraine remain neutral and not join the NATO military alliance.

“As for demilitarisation, they don’t want to negotiate, so we are then forced to take other measures, including military measures,” Putin said.

“Either we agree or we need to resolve [the issue] by force,” he added.

Putin said there are some 617,000 Russian soldiers currently in Ukraine, including about 244,000 who were called up to fight alongside professional Russian military forces. But there was no current need for a further mobilisation of reservists, he added.

He said an estimated 486,000 people had so far signed up voluntarily as contract soldiers, on top of the 300,000 people called up last year, and “the flow is not diminishing”.

‘A tragedy’

Last December, in a break from tradition, Putin cancelled the event. It was the first time in a decade he did not hold the conference.

This year, key themes of the conference were the fighting in Ukraine, payments to soldiers and their families and the economy, Russian media said.

Speaking to reporters, Putin said Ukraine had lost some of its best troops in an attempt to secure a foothold on the east bank of the Dnipro in the Kherson region. “It is a tragedy, I believe, for them,” he said.

As the war approaches the end of its second year, Ukraine has achieved only small gains from a counteroffensive that began in June.

Russia, however, has also made no tangible progress since capturing the city of Bakhmut at heavy cost in May. It occupies about a sixth of Ukraine’s territory but does not fully control any of the four Ukrainian regions it claimed last year as part of Russia.

Putin also said it was important that United Nations mechanisms, such as the veto power of permanent member states of the Security Council, remained in place.

Asked by a Turkish journalist about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, he said he hoped to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in early 2024.

#Putin #Russias #goals #Ukraine #unchanged #peace #theyre #achieved #RussiaUkraine #war #News

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