Russian President Vladimir Putin believes his nation is leading the battle against Ukraine. In a four-hour televised press conference on December 14, the Russian president said he believes that the war will end once Russia achieves its goals. “Either we get an agreement or we solve this by force,” Putin stated.
Russia will spend $11 billion (1 trillion rubles) annually on maintaining reclaimed land. “Ukraine’s whole southeast has always been pro-Russian because these are historically Russian territories,” Putin claimed. “What does Ukraine have to do with this? Neither Crimea nor the Black Sea’s whole northern coast have anything to do (with Ukraine). And Odesa is a Russian city,” Putin said after announcing that Russia would not surrender any annexed land in Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, or Donetsk.
The televised event was the president’s first time addressing the public at large since February 2022, and comes days after announcing he will seek a fifth term in March. Putin took questions from the audience and journalists during the event. Some of the questions were pre-screened to allow Putin the opportunity to provide the public with the intended messaging. However, they also televised various text messages from the public that were critical of the government and world. “Why is your ‘reality’ at odds with our lived reality?” one message read.
The Russian people want the war to end as hundreds of thousands have already died. Putin claimed Russia does not plan to send additional troops into battle at this time, as over 600,000 are currently on the ground. He assured the people that better days are ahead, claiming GDP will rise in 3.5% in 2023 and unemployment will reach a historic low of 2.9%. One citizen asked about food inflation and cited eggs in particular as they have spiked over 40%. “I apologize for this, but this is a failure of the government’s work,” he stated. Inflation in Russia is running at around 7.5% despite the central bank targeting 4%.
Now the people of Russia want the war to end and Putin wants to win the favor of the people ahead of the election. “There will be peace when we achieve our goals,” Putin again reassured the public. Yet, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg made a speech around the same time urging nations to continue supporting Ukraine. Stoltenberg said that Russia will not stop at Ukraine if it achieves its objectives. “If Putin wins in Ukraine, there is real risk that his aggression will not end there. Our support is not charity. It is an investment in our security,” he said.
As long as the money continues to flow to Ukraine, the war will continue.