Putin Makes Rare Admission About Ukraine Annexation Plan: 'Not The Best'

But the Russian president is still far from giving up.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin
Russia's President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin has said the war in Ukraine is “not the best” right now, suggesting Russia is struggling to make any significant gains.

The Russian president, speaking at a meeting of participants in some nation-wide family contests on Tuesday, suggested he still believes southern Ukraine will join the “common Russian space”.

But, Putin acknowledged that “the situation” on the battlefield “now is not the best and far from calm”.

According to the Russian state news agency, TASS, Putin was talking about the eastern Donbas region and “Novorossiya” – which translates to “New Russia” – in particular.

Novorossiya is a historic name for the southern third of Ukraine. It includes the peninsula of Crimea, which was already annexed by Russia in 2014, and the Ukrainian land north of the Black Sea.

The moniker was used at the height of the Russian Empire when the region was colonised from the declining Ottoman Empire.

The name faded out of use, but Putin brought it back in 2014 when tensions between Ukraine and Russia started to rise.

The president stirred controversy when he said “God knows” why Russia ever surrendered “Novorossiya” to Ukraine, according to the think tank, the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

The think tank’s experts explained that this area was responsible for around two thirds of Ukraine’s GDP in 2014.

That’s because the eastern and southern provinces of the country are more industrialised than those to the centre and west, and have access to the Black Sea.

In his speech yesterday, Putin told the public that he was still optimistic that the southern parts of Ukraine would be annexed – and soon.

He said: “Their entry into the common Russian space, I hope, will happen very soon.”

He added: “We will strive to make it happen as quickly as possible, along with settling the security issue, of course.”

It’s worth noting it was only back in June that Putin claimed Russia had established control over “almost all” of what he calls “Novorossiya”, according to Reuters’ reports.

In Tuesday speech, Putin also claimed that the referendums held in the four areas Russia annexed back in 2022 – which the international community has long denounced as illegal – showed historical ties with Russia had not been lost.

He then promised to “continue these programmes” and restore the regions which have been destroyed since Russia invaded in February 2022.

Putin suggested these areas were already adding money to the federal budget, and so reassured the Russian public that “the payoff is well in sight.”

Russia currently occupies over the same amount of Ukrainian land as it did last summer – around 17% of its total territory.


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