Putin is defiant and buoyant during marathon call-in and news conference

This event has ended. Here are the highlights:

MOSCOW — There will be no peace in Ukraine until the Kremlin realizes its goals, including the “de-Nazification” and demilitarization of its western neighbor, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday after nearly two years of fighting.

Speaking at a marathon four-hour news conference, Putin appeared buoyant and defiant as he offered rare insights into what Moscow calls its “special military operation.”

Dismissing the need for another mobilization of reservists to fight in Ukraine, he said 617,000 service members were currently on the ground in Ukraine. It is the first time he or any member of his government has offered a number for how many soldiers the Kremlin has sent into Ukraine.

“There will be peace when we will achieve our goals,” Putin said, including the de-Nazification of Ukraine. Putin and his government falsely claim Ukraine is run by “Nazis” and have used it as a justification for the war.

Putin fielded questions from across Russia’s 11 time zones in a Q&A at the Gostinyy Dvor center in central Moscow, the first time he has done so since invading Ukraine in February 2022. He skipped both events last year.

This year the military featured prominently in his remarks, and there were questions from soldiers phoning in from the front lines and from Russia’s war correspondents. 

Putin also called the destruction of Gaza a “catastrophe” and suggested that Russia and China are enjoying an “unprecedented” level of cooperation, with trade reaching more than $200 billion this year. He also said the Russian economy was strong despite Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin said that Russia was looking to negotiate with the U.S. about detained Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, a businessman and former Marine imprisoned in Russia on suspicion of spying. Contacts have been made to discuss securing their freedom, he said.

His comments came shortly after Gershkovich’s pretrial detention on espionage charges was extended until Jan. 30 by a Russian court, according to the state news agency Tass.

There were also some lighter moments. At one point, Putin was asked by a student from St. Petersburg about his concerns over artificial intelligence and if he had any body doubles.


Leave a Comment