Putin Describes Ukraine Invasion As “War” for First Time: Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have given up attempting to reframe the invasion of Ukraine as anything other than “war,” using the word to describe the conflict for the very first time during a televised news conference on Friday.
“Our goal is not to spin this flywheel of a military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war,” the Russian president said.
“We have been and will continue to strive for this.”
Since the beginning of the invasion in February, Putin only ever used the term “special military operation” to describe the conflict.
While the term used to describe the invasion doesn’t change the nature of what’s happening on the ground, it did indicate that Putin was concerned about using the term “war” when addressing Russian citizens, likely because the Kremlin believed the operation would end quickly with a Russian victory.
After almost 10 months of conflict, however, it looks as though the Russian president is finally ready to use the term “war.”
Exactly why the president chose now to use the term, however, is unclear.
It’s possible that the Russian president simply didn’t intend to use the term, and that his comments on television were a mistake.
Alternatively, Putin may have adopted a new strategy designed to rally the support of the Russian people at a time when Russian soldiers are slowly being pushed out of territories that they initially assumed control of in February and March.
Did Putin Break the Law?
One reason to believe that Putin may have simply made a mistake is that he himself signed legislation in March that makes it illegal to spread “misinformation” about the invasion of Ukraine.
Under that law, individuals can face up to 15 years in prison if they wrongly describe the “special military operation” as a war in Ukraine.
Putin’s comments immediately drew the attention of anti-war activists, some of whom are now calling for Putin’s prosecution.
Nikita Yuferev, a local lawmaker from St. Petersburg who fled Russia over his position on the war, called for Putin to be arrested in a Twitter post.
“There was no decree to end the special military operation, no war was declared,” Yuferev said. “Several thousand people have already been condemned for such words about the war.”
If Putin made the comment by accident, expect not to hear him say “war” again – or even acknowledge that he said it in the first place.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.