NEWS Putin admits Russia’s war in Ukraine could be a long one

Putin admits Russia's war in Ukraine could be a long one
  • Nuclear threat rises, but ‘we’re not crazy’ – Putin
  • Russia fires more than 1,000 times at Ukraine power grid – report
  • Russian shelling kills 10 in eastern Ukraine – Zelensky

LONDON/KYIV, Dec 8 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged that his troops may be fighting in Ukraine for a long time, but said there will be no second call-ups for now.

Putin has rarely spoken about the duration of the war he started more than nine months ago, but told loyalists in a televised conference on Wednesday that it could continue for some time.

“It can be a long process,” he said.

Since July, Russia has been forced into a series of major retreats in the east and south in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, with Western weapons stockpiles growing.

Russia launched what it called a “special military operation” in February, saying Ukraine’s deepening ties with the West posed a security threat. Ukraine and its allies have called the invasion tantamount to imperialist land grabs.

Putin said in his speech that the risk of nuclear war is increasing, but Russia will not threaten to use such weapons with impunity.

“We are not crazy, we know what nuclear weapons are,” Putin said. “We have these means more advanced and more modern than any other nuclear power … but we don’t go around the world wielding this weapon like a razor.”

German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said in an interview published Thursday that the risk of Putin using nuclear weapons had been reduced in response to international pressure.


Of the 300,000 reservists called up in September and October, about 150,000 were deployed in Ukraine, 77,000 of them in combat units, Putin said. The remaining 150,000 are still in training centres.

“In these circumstances, it simply does not make sense to talk about any additional mobilization measures,” Putin said.

Russia’s economy has overcome a short-term slump caused by some mobilization orders, but its deflationary role in reducing consumer demand has virtually disappeared, the Bank of Russia said on Wednesday.

Despite recent retreats on the battlefield, including the loss of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian provincial capital of Kherson, Putin said he has no regrets about waging what has become Europe’s most destructive war since World War II.

He said Russia had achieved “significant results” in acquiring “new territories” – referring to the September annexation of four partially occupied regions, which Ukraine and most UN members denounced as illegal.

Russian shelling killed 10 people and wounded many more in the eastern Ukraine town of Kurakhove on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his evening video address.

“These are peaceful people, ordinary people,” said Zelensky, who was named Time magazine’s 2022 “Person of the Year” on Wednesday for his leadership.

Heavy fighting broke out around the nearby town of Bachmut.

“The enemy has become very active recently, it’s attacking, their aviation is more active, there’s a continuous air intelligence mission,” said a Ukrainian force commander who goes by the pseudonym de guerre Bandera.

“All day yesterday, our positions were being shelled and their drones were in the air all day.”


Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Russia had resumed using Iranian-made drones, with Ukrainian forces shooting down 14 drones that attacked settlements in western and central Ukraine in 24 hours.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations was reviewing “available information” on allegations that Iran supplied drones to Russia, as he faced Western pressure to send experts to Ukraine to inspect the downed drone.

Iran denies supplying drones to Russia, and Russia denies its forces used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.

Russia’s military fired more than 1,000 rockets and missiles at Ukraine’s power grid, which is still working despite major damage, the Ukrenergo power grid operator’s chief executive was quoted by Ukraine’s Interfax Ukrainian news agency on Wednesday.

Eight recent Russian airstrikes on critical infrastructure severely damaged the power grid and caused emergency and planned power outages across the country, including the capital Kyiv, a city of three million people.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko has warned of an “end-of-the-world” scenario this winter without power, running water or heating if Russia continues its airstrikes on infrastructure. There is no need for residents to evacuate now, but they should be prepared, he said.

Klitschko told Reuters in an interview that Kyiv may not have central heating at a time when temperatures can drop to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit).

Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Robert Birsel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Mark Trevelyan

Thomson Reuters

Lead writer on Russia and the CIS. Worked as a journalist on 7 continents and reported in over 40 countries with assignments in London, Wellington, Brussels, Warsaw, Moscow and Berlin. Covers the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Worked as a security reporter from 2003 to 2008. Speaks French, Russian and (rusty) German and Polish.

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