During a press conference on Dec. 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia seeks to end the war as soon as possible while simultaneously noting that Russia will not increase the pace of what it calls a ”special military operation” because it would lead to ”unjustified losses.” The Institute for the Study of war said in their latest report that both statements are a part of the Kremlin’s consolidated effort to justify Putin’s costly war effort to Russian domestic audiences who are making increasingly greater sacrifices to fulfill the Kremlin’s unrealistic goals.
The Russian military has not achieved any significant victories in Ukraine since the fall of Lysychansk on July 3. The ISW writes that Putin and Russian Ministry of Defense officials have made numerous appearances and offered vague justifications for military failures in recent days, also likely in an effort downplay the effects of the protracted war.
Putin also said during the press conference that Russia seeks “not to spin this flywheel of a military conflict, but on the contrary - to end this war.” Putin used this word —war — instead of the phrasing “special military operation” when falsely accusing Ukraine of starting a war against its population in 2014. Putin’s mention of “war” prompted a few military bloggers to state that they have always used both terms interchangeably because “every thinking person knows that what is happening in Ukraine is a hot war,” despite the lack of an official declaration of war by Russia.
"The confusion indicates that Putin’s limited war narrative may conflict with his presentation of the “special military operation” as a fight for Russia’s sovereignty while not being an official war," the ISW found.