| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Putin ponders a question: Should Russia try to take Kyiv again?

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that any additional mobilization would be determined by what Russia hoped to achieve in the Ukraine war, adding that he faced a question only he could answer: should Russia strive to retake Kyiv?

More than 15 months after Putin dispatched troops to Ukraine in February 2022, Russian and Ukrainian soldiers are still fighting with artillery, tanks, and drones along a 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line, far from the capital Kyiv.

Putin last September announced what he said was a “partial mobilization” of 300,000 reservists, triggering an exodus of at least as many Russian men who sought to dodge the draft by leaving for republics of the former Soviet Union.

Asked about another mobilization at a meeting with 18 Russian war correspondents and bloggers in the Kremlin, Putin said: “There is no such need today.”

Russia’s paramount leader, though, was less than definitive, saying it depended on what Moscow wanted to achieve and pointing out that some public figures thought Russia needed to get 1 million or 2 million extra men mobilized.

“It depends on what we want,” Putin said.

While Putin said that the defence ministry saw no need for another wave of call-ups, he also raised what he said was a rhetorical question that only he could answer about going for another attempt on Kyiv.

Putin said of Kyiv: “Should we return there or not? Why am I asking such a rhetorical question? It is clear that there is simply no answer to this – I can only answer it myself.”

Russian forces attacked Kyiv just hours after Putin ordered troops into Ukraine, seeking to take control of an airfield just outside the Ukrainian capital, but they were repelled with heavy losses by Ukrainian forces.

Further attacks followed, but Russian troops were beaten back and eventually withdrew to a swathe of land in Ukraine’s east and south which Putin has declared is now part of Russia.

Russia, Putin said, had reached “almost the whole of Novorossiya” (New Russia), a significant part of Donetsk region with access to the Sea of Azov and port of Mariupol, and almost the whole of the Luhansk region to the north of Donetsk.

  • Reuters