Vladimir Putin Admits Ukraine War Is Taking Longer Than Expected

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Wednesday that his “special military operation” in Ukraine is taking longer than anticipated however mentioned it has succeeded in seizing new territory and added that his nation’s nuclear weapons are deterring escalation of the battle.

“Of course, it could be a lengthy process,” Putin mentioned of the greater than 9-month-old struggle that started with Russia’s invasion Feb. 24 and has displaced tens of millions from their properties, and killed and wounded tens of 1000’s. Regardless of its size, he confirmed no indicators of letting up, vowing to “consistently fight for our interests” and to “protect ourselves using all means available.” He reiterated his declare that he had no selection however to ship in troops, saying that for years, the West responded to Russia’s safety calls for with “only spit in the face.”

Talking in a televised assembly in Russia with members of his Human Rights Council, Putin described the land good points as “a significant result for Russia,” noting that the Sea of Azov “has become Russia’s internal sea.” In certainly one of his frequent historic references to a Russian chief he admires, he added that “Peter the Great fought to get access” to that physique of water.

After failing to take Kyiv attributable to fierce Ukrainian resistance, Russia seized broad swaths of southern Ukraine firstly of the invasion and captured the important thing Sea of Azov port of Mariupol in Could after an almost three-month siege. In September, Putin illegally annexed 4 Ukrainian areas although his forces didn’t fully management them: Kherson and Zaporizhzhia within the south, and Donetsk and Luhansk within the east. In 2014, he had illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

In response to an rising inflow of superior Western weapons, financial, political and humanitarian assist to Kyiv and what he noticed as Western leaders’ inflammatory statements, Putin has periodically hinted at his potential use of nuclear weapons. When a member of the Human Rights Council requested him Wednesday to pledge that Russia wouldn’t be the primary to make use of such weapons, Putin demurred. He mentioned Russia wouldn’t have the ability to use nuclear weapons in any respect if it agreed to not use them first after which got here beneath a nuclear strike.

“If it doesn’t use it first under any circumstances, it means that it won’t be the second to use it either, because the possibility of using it in case of a nuclear strike on our territory will be sharply limited,” he mentioned.

Putin rejected Western criticism that his earlier nuclear weapons feedback amounted to saber-rattling, claiming they have been “not a factor provoking an escalation of conflicts, but a factor of deterrence.”

“We haven’t gone mad. We are fully aware of what nuclear weapons are,” Putin mentioned. He added, with out elaborating: “We have them, and they are more advanced and state-of-the-art than what any other nuclear power has.”

In his televised remarks, the Russian chief didn’t deal with Russia’s battlefield setbacks or its makes an attempt to cement management over the seized areas however acknowledged issues with provides, therapy of wounded troopers and restricted desertions.

Russian troops have withdrawn not solely from the Kyiv space and across the nation’s largest metropolis, Kharkiv, however from a big a part of the Kherson area. One other downside for Putin are assaults this week in opposition to air drive bases deep inside Russia. He put a lot of the nation, particularly border areas, on safety alert just lately, and recent indicators emerged Wednesday that Russian officers are strengthening border defensive positions.

Within the Kursk area bordering Ukraine, the governor posted pictures of latest concrete anti-tank limitations — generally known as “dragon’s teeth” — in open fields. On Tuesday, the governor had mentioned a hearth broke out at an airport within the area after a drone strike. In neighboring Belgorod, employees have been increasing anti-tank limitations and officers have been organizing “self-defense units.” Belgorod has seen quite a few fires and explosions, apparently from cross-border assaults, and its governor reported Wednesday that Russia’s air defenses have shot down incoming rockets.

In brazen drone assaults, two strategic Russian air bases greater than 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the Ukraine border have been struck Monday. Moscow blamed Ukraine, which didn’t declare accountability.

Moscow responded with strikes by artillery, a number of rocket launchers, missiles, tanks and mortars at residential buildings and civilian infrastructure, worsening harm to the facility grid. Personal Ukrainian energy utility Ukrenergo mentioned temperatures in jap areas the place it was making repairs had dropped to as little as minus 17 levels Celsius (close to zero Fahrenheit).

At his assembly, Putin mentioned the mobilization of 300,000 reservists that he ordered in September to bolster forces in Ukraine. He mentioned solely about 150,000 have been deployed thus far to fight zones and the remainder are nonetheless present process coaching. Addressing hypothesis that the Kremlin may very well be getting ready one other mobilization, Putin mentioned: “There is no need for the Defense Ministry and the country to do that.”

— Ukraine’s presidential workplace mentioned Russian forces in a single day struck 9 areas within the east and south, and resumed utilizing Iranian-made Shahed drones after provide difficulties. First showing in Ukraine in late August, the Shahed drones have been Moscow’s weapon of option to trigger energy blackouts. Britain’s Ministry of Protection mentioned final month Russia was operating out of the drones however would in all probability search replacements.

— Within the metropolis of Kherson, a 43-year-old waterworks worker was killed when Russian shelling ignited a hearth and broken residential buildings, the presidential workplace mentioned. Within the Donetsk area, Moscow is urgent an offensive close to Bakhmut and Avdiivka, with some 20 cities and villages beneath fireplace, the Normal Workers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine mentioned. Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy mentioned 4 Kherson police have been killed coping with mines Russian forces left behind after they retreated.

A neighborhood resident leaves his residence after Russian shelling destroyed an residence home in Bakhmut, Donetsk area, Ukraine, on Dec. 7, 2022.

LIBKOS through Related Press

— The U.N.’s human rights workplace documented 441 killings by Russian forces in three areas, together with the city of Bucha, early within the struggle. The pinnacle of the U.N.’s monitoring mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, mentioned it has no data that Russia has been investigating or prosecuting alleged crimes in Ukraine, whereas Ukrainian authorities are struggling to take action due to the “sheer volume of allegations and forensic challenges.”

— NATO Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg mentioned Russia seems to be slowing its army actions in Ukraine for the winter to regroup and launch a brand new offensive when the climate warms. Stoltenberg mentioned at a Monetary Instances occasion it’s vital for NATO and its companions to proceed supporting Ukraine, particularly with no signal of peace talks.

— An Orthodox priest from jap Ukraine has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for passing army data to Russian forces, Ukraine’s prosecutor common reported. Authorities have been looking websites tied to the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

— Ukraine’s prime diplomat mentioned its diplomatic missions have confronted assaults previously week, with greater than 30 suspect packages, together with some containing animal elements, despatched to embassies and consulates in 15 international locations. International Minister Dmytro Kuleba mentioned the deliveries have occurred in Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Denmark, in addition to a consulate within the Polish metropolis of Gdańsk.

Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, Lorne Cook dinner in Brussels, Joanna Kozlowska in London and Andrew Katell in New York contributed.

Comply with AP’s protection of the struggle in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine