- Vladimir Putin won’t face reporters this year at his annual press conference, state media said.
- The Kremlin has held a major press conference every December for the last 10 years.
- The news comes as Russia continues to experience battlefield setbacks in Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin has put a major press conference, normally held annually in December, on hold until the new year, according to Russian state media.
In a highly unusual move, Putin’s top spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin hoped the meeting with Russian media outlets would now take place on an unspecified date in 2023, according to state-run news agency TASS.
Putin has held the marathon event, which can run for several hours, every December for the last 10 years, according to The Moscow Times.
No reason for the delay was given.
However, the announcement comes after months of setbacks for Russia’s army in Ukraine, in a conflict that, according to a recent assessment by UK defense think tank RUSI, was expected to be swiftly concluded.
Instead of the expected 10 days of fighting, Russia’s troops remain locked in a grim battle. Territorial gains grabbed early in the war have, in recent months, been partially reversed by Ukrainian counteroffensives.
Reports that the Kremlin was considering postponement first came to light in mid-November, shortly after news emerged that Russian troops were being withdrawn from the strategic city of Kherson, as Russian media outlet RBC reported at the time.
Meanwhile, Russia’s media landscape has been systematically defanged, a process that reached its peak after the current conflict began. It remains illegal in Russia to describe the conflict in Ukraine, which the Kremlin calls a “special military operation,” as a war.
During the press conference, Putin was likely to have faced extensive questioning about the conflict.
At last year’s event, as Russian troops massed along Ukraine’s border, questions about an impending invasion of Ukraine dominated — something that Putin refused to rule out.
At the time he said NATO was putting “constant pressure” on Russia with its eastward expansion, a notion that has long been marshaled as justification for the Ukraine invasion by Russia and its proxies.