Vladimir Putin has said that the war in Ukraine could turn into a “long-term process” as the Kremlin’s forces appear to be in retreat and airbases in Russia are increasingly under attack. Speaking to members of his personal human rights council on Wednesday, Putin said that Russia would not use nuclear weapons first in any conflict.
The former FSB director denied reports that Russian troops were deserting en masse from the battlefield and that he wouldn’t mobilise more troops.
However Putin also defended what the Kremlin refers to as a “special military operation” in Ukraine effectively admitting that it was a war of conquest by comparing it to the wars fought by former Russian Tsars.
He said: “As for the slow process of the special military operation, then, of course, it can be a long-term process.
“But then you mentioned that new territories had appeared.
“This is such a significant result for Russia … The Azov Sea has become an internal Russian sea.
“Even Peter I had fought for access to the Azov Sea.”
The former KGB officer added that there were no plans for more military mobilisations and that only half of the 300,000 mobilised personal had been sent to battlefield with the rest still engaged in training.
He said: “In these conditions, any talk about additional mobilisation proceedings simply doesn’t make sense.
“I repeat once again that no cases of such nature [desertions] have a mass character.”
The former Russian Prime Minister also admitted that the threat of nuclear was was increasing but said that Russia would not use nuclear weapons first.
He said: “This threat is increasing, I can’t deny it.
“We have not gone crazy, we are aware of what nuclear weapons are.
“We have these means, and they are more advanced and more modern than those of any other nuclear country.
“As of today, this is an obvious fact.
“We are not going to wave these weapons around like a razor, running around the world, but of course we act with the understanding that they exist.”