On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his army could fight in Ukraine for a long time, but he didn’t see “any reason” to send more soldiers there right now.
Putin said, using his preferred term for Russia’s invasion, which started in February, “As for how long the special military operation will last, well, this can be a long process.”
During a televised meeting of his Human Rights Council, which was mostly about the war, Putin said that Russians would “defend ourselves with all the tools we have.” He also said that the West saw Russia as “a second-class country that has no right to exist at all.”
He said that the chance of a nuclear war was getting higher, which was the latest in a long line of similar warnings. However, he said that Russia saw its arsenal as a way to fight back, not to start a war.
Putin said, “We haven’t gone crazy. We know what nuclear weapons are.” “We have these tools in a more advanced and modern form than any other nuclear country. But we’re not going to carry this weapon around like a razor.”
After calling up at least 300,000 reservists in September and October, he said there was no reason for a second mobilisation at this time.
Putin said that 150,000 of these were in Ukraine, with 77,000 in fighting units and the rest in defensive roles. The other 150,000 were still in centres for training.
“Under these circumstances, it makes no sense to talk about any more mobilisation measures,” he said.
Putin hasn’t talked much about how long the war is likely to last, but in July, he bragged that Russia was just getting started.
Since then, Russia has had to make big steps back, but Putin has said he doesn’t regret starting a war that has been Europe’s worst since World War II.
Putin said that Russia had already achieved a “significant result” by taking over “new territories” in Ukraine. He was talking about the illegal annexation of four partially occupied regions in September, which Kyiv and most UN members condemned.
He said that Russia had made the Sea of Azov, which is surrounded by Russia and territory it controls, its “internal sea.” He said that was one of Peter the Great’s goals. Peter the Great was a warrior tsar in the 17th and 18th centuries. Putin has often said that he is like Peter the Great.
Putin’s Human Rights Council meets once a year. Critics say that this group has helped him show lip service to civic freedoms while increasing repression and putting an end to dissent.
He was angry that the West was not paying attention to what he said was the direct shelling of residential areas by the Ukrainian military in the Russian-controlled Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
During the war, there have been a lot of civilian deaths in Ukraine, even though Russia says it didn’t mean to hurt civilians. The UN’s human rights office said on Wednesday that Russian forces had killed at least 441 civilians in the first days of their invasion. The office found evidence of attacks in dozens of towns and summary executions, which it said might be war crimes. Moscow didn’t answer right away.
During the meeting, news came out that Ivan Safronov, a former defence reporter, had lost his appeal against a 22-year prison sentence for treason. He was accused of giving away state secrets about defence contracts, but he said that all the information could be found in open sources.
Ilya Yashin, a Moscow opposition councillor who spoke out against the war, is waiting to hear his sentence this week. This is because of a law passed after the invasion that makes it illegal to spread “false information” about the military. The government wants a nine-year sentence.
Putin got rid of ten members of the council last month and put in four new ones. One of the new members is Alexander Kots, a pro-war blogger and reporter for the newspaper with the most readers, Komsomolskaya Pravda.
Several of the members who were kicked out of the party said they wanted to talk to Putin about the laws against dissent and the fact that Kremlin critics are called “foreign agents.”