World

As anniversary of Ukraine war nears, Putin to update Russians on his plan for the year ahead

Russia’s president will give an update on what he calls his “special military operation” in Ukraine later.

Vladimir Putin will address members of both houses of parliament, military commanders and soldiers – nearly one year after he sent troops into the country.

Despite superiority in numbers, Russian troops have been defeated a number of times since the war began, although they still control about one fifth of Ukraine.

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Mr Putin’s speech has not been released but he is also expected to share his thoughts on the world and on Russia’s economic progress since Western countries reacted to the invasion by imposing tough sanctions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s TASS news agency: “Our entire life spins around the special op issue.

“And the special military operation influences our life in one way or another, influences the life on the continent.

“Therefore, of course, it would be reasonable to expect that the president will pay a lot of attention to the operation.

“Everyone is waiting for the address, hoping to hear the assessment of the affairs, the assessment of the special military operation, the assessment of the international situation and the president’s vision of how we manage it and how we will develop in the future.”

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According to TASS, federal TV stations have allocated an hour for the presidential address, but the length of the speech is up to Mr Putin.

In April 2021 the speech took one hour and 19 minutes while in 2018 it took one hour and 55 minutes, and in 2004 and 2005 it was just 48 minutes.

The address is aimed at the domestic audience, with around 1,000 guests expected, and reporters are only invited from Russia and “friendly countries”, the news agency added.

Tens of thousands of men have been killed while fighting in Ukraine – and Putin, 70, now claims the country is locked in an existential battle with an arrogant West that wants to carve up Russia and steal its vast natural resources.

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US sends clear message to Russia

Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has accused Putin of destroying Russia’s future for the sake of his own personal ambitions.

“The real reasons for this war are the political and economic problems within Russia, Putin’s desire to hold on to power at any cost, and his obsession with his own historical legacy,” Mr Navalny said.

Mr Putin’s speech is due to begin at 9am UK time.

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