The Kremlin has announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin will skip his year-end marathon news conference for the first time in a decade.
The announcement from Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov comes amid mounting setbacks for the Russian military in its nearly ten-month-old war in Ukraine.
Putin is expected to hold his annual marathon news conference some time after the new year, according to Russian news service TASS, but did not give a date.
The televised year-end news conference is regarded to be a big event in Russia. Putin uses it to tout the year’s accomplishments and to reveal priorities for the year ahead. The Russian President usually sits in an auditorium and takes rounds of questions from reporters.
According to The Moscow Times, this is the first time Putin has skipped the news conference in ten years. He has held 17 of them since 2001 and has only canceled once before. He did not hold them between 2008-2011 when he was Prime Minister.
The Russian military in Ukraine has suffered some significant setbacks in recent months, perhaps most bitter of which was its troop withdrawal from the Kherson region in November. Kherson was the first major city and only regional capital that Russia had captured since it invaded Ukraine back in February, and Putin had reportedly hoped to use this vital gateway port to the Black Sea as a bridgehead to drive his army further west.
In a forum last week, Putin acknowledged the war “could be a lengthy process,” adding that the Russian army would carry the war through to the end.