Putin Tells Russians War Is Taking Longer Than Expected

But he claims Russia hasn't 'gone mad' on nuclear weapons, wouldn't use them recklessly
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2022 10:35 AM CST
Putin Tells Russians War Is Taking Longer Than Expected
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen via videoconference in Moscow on Wednesday.   (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The Russian-led war in Ukraine is closing in on 10 months, but Russians shouldn't expect what their president calls the "special military operation" to end anytime soon. "This can be a long process," Vladimir Putin acknowledged Wednesday in a televised meeting with loyalists of the invasion that began on Feb. 24, per Reuters. Putin repeated his unsubstantiated claim that he had no choice but to launch the war, alleging that Ukraine's strengthening ties to the West posed security issues, and promising to "consistently fight for our interests" and "protect ourselves using all means available," the AP reports.

While those means could theoretically include nuclear weapons, Putin also tried to offer some assurance on that front as well. Although he said the risk of nuclear war was rising, "we haven't gone mad," he noted. "We realize what nuclear weapons are." He then boasted that Russia does indeed have nukes that are "more advanced and state of the art than what any other nuclear power has," but he added, "We aren't about to run around the world brandishing this weapon like a razor." Putin then moved on to mobilization efforts, noting that about 150,000 of the 300,000 reservists called up earlier this fall have been deployed in Ukraine, with 77,000 of those entrenched in combat units.

But the rest are in training, meaning there's no need at the moment to discuss additional mobilization measures, which "simply makes no sense," he said, per Reuters. Former Putin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov tells the New York Times that his ex-boss had to say something about that, considering the current circumstances. "The people are getting tired, and Putin knows that a protracted war cannot be popular," Gallyamov says, adding that Putin is "trying to show that he has enough men to last through the winter"—a season Putin hopes will tilt the war in Russia's favor as fighting slows and Western nations hit hard by the lack of Russian energy supplies perhaps start to pull back support for Ukraine. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)

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