Nearly 10 months after his invasion of Ukraine It has begun, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday admitted the conflict “will take some time”, as he also warned of the “growing” threat of nuclear war.
Speaking at a meeting of the Russian Human Rights Council in the Kremlin, Putin said Moscow would fight back with “every available means at our disposal” in what he insisted on calling a “special military operation”, but also said he saw no immediate need to mobilize more troops.
“Given the protracted nature of the special military operation and its results, of course it may take some time,” he said.
And without categorically ruling out the first use of nuclear weapons, Putin said he viewed Russia’s nuclear arsenal as a deterrent, not a provocation.
“As for the idea that Russia would not under any circumstances be the first to use such weapons, then that means that we also could not be the second to use them – because the ability to do so in the event of an attack on our territory would be very limited,” he said.
“However, we have a strategy … namely, as a defense, we are looking at weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons – everything is based on so-called retaliatory strike,” he said. “That is, when we get hit, we hit back.”
The Russian leader said that the United States’ nuclear weapons are located in large numbers on European soil, while Russia has not transferred its nuclear weapons to other territories and has no plans to do so, but “will defend its allies by all means at its disposal, if necessary.”
“We are not crazy. We know what nuclear weapons are. We have these means, they are in a more modern and advanced form than those of any other nuclear power, that is obvious,” he said. “But we’re not going to swing these guns like a razor running around the world.
Intercepted phone call reveals deteriorating conditions for Russian forces
Putin also said there was no need for further mobilization of Russian troops at this stage, saying proposals for more deployment “simply do not make sense”.
Of the 300,000 men called up for Russia’s partial mobilization, half are currently in Ukraine – and of those, only 77,000 are in combat units, while the rest are in the defense forces or in training, he said.
Meanwhile, in response to a question, he described Moscow’s territorial gains as “a significant result for Russia.”
In September, Putin announced the annexation of four Ukrainian regions – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye – in a process that violates international law.
However, Russia currently controls only 60% of the southern Kherson region. It was forced to withdraw from the regional capital city of Kherson last month in a humiliating setback, although it still controls the coastline along the Sea of Azov.
“Let’s be honest, the Sea of Azov has become an internal sea of the Russian Federation. It’s all a big deal,” Putin said.
Meanwhile, in Zaporizhia, the UN nuclear watchdog has repeatedly warned of the risk of a nuclear accident at Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since March.
The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant has been rocked by explosions in recent months amid fighting nearby, with Kyiv and Moscow blaming each other for the attacks.
Earlier this week, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman appeared to rule out International Atomic Energy Agency proposals to create a demilitarized zone around the plant, saying it was on “Russian territory and fully controlled by Russia.”
Putin’s comments come as the war enters winter, with Russia continuing to shell eastern and southern parts of Ukraine – and facing attacks on its own soil.
Earlier this week, Russia unleashed a wave of drone and missile attacks in Ukraine targeting the country’s energy infrastructure. Ukraine has been facing a widespread attack on critical infrastructure and energy sources since early October.
Recent strikes have caused major power outages in several regions, including Kyiv and Odessa, leaving many households without electricity. Ukrainian repair crews are working frantically to restore power across the country, but their efforts are being slowed by sub-zero temperatures and bad weather.
Meanwhile, Russia blamed Kyiv to use drones to strike military airfields far inside its territory on Monday and Tuesday — a stark violation of Moscow’s assumptions that it can defend its deep interior.
Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the blasts, in line with Kyiv’s policy of official silence on attacks in Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea.
However, in an apparent reference to the strikes, presidential aide Volodymyr Zelensky cryptically tweeted that “if anything is fired into the airspace of other countries, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to the point of departure.”
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