Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday December 22, 2022
Putin Finally Says the Quiet Part Out Loud
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a significant statement this week as he called the conflict in Ukraine a “war” for the first time since he ordered a full-scale invasion into the neighboring country.
On Thursday, Putin advocated for an end to the “war,” a word he has avoided using to describe what he and the Kremlin have otherwise insisted to be a “special military operation” for the last 10 months.
“Our aim is not to fan the flames of this military conflict, on the contrary, it is to end this war,” Putin told reporters.
Up until now, the Russian president has repeatedly asserted that the ongoing escalation in Ukraine is not a “war” but a “special military operation” that Russia had “no choice” but to conduct to protect Russians living in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Just earlier this month, Putin said the “special military operation” was taking longer than expected as he acknowledged that the battle was taking a toll on his army. Speaking with members of his Human Rights Council, Putin vowed to “consistently fight for our interests” despite it being a “lengthy process.”
But Thursday’s comment marks a departure from the narrative Putin has sought to maintain throughout Russia’s invasion, and revealed how fraught the conflict remains just days before Christmas. Calculations from Newsweek estimate that Russia’s death toll is expected to pass 100,000 troop losses on Thursday.
On Thursday, Russia reiterated that it is open to negotiations—a claim that has been met with much skepticism from Ukraine and the West.
“I have said many times: The intensification of hostilities leads to unjustified losses,” Putin said. “All armed conflicts end one way or another with some kind of negotiations on the diplomatic track.”
“Sooner or later, any parties in a state of conflict sit down and make an agreement. The sooner this realization comes to those who oppose us, the better. We have never given up on this,” the Russian president added.
His comments come a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an in-person address to Congress during his first trip outside of Ukraine since the conflict began on February 24.
“Russia could stop its aggression…but you can speed up our victory,” Zelensky told American lawmakers on Wednesday night.
Asking for continued assistance from the U.S., the Ukrainian president said, “Your money is not charity, it’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”
During the visit, President Joe Biden announced an additional $1.8 billion in military aid for Ukraine, saying, “I think it’s important for [Zelensky] to know we are going to do everything in our power to see that he succeeds.” (Newsweek)