Putin uncertain of his ability to shape Russian information space - ISW

Putin uncertain of his ability to shape Russian information space - ISW

Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual New Year's Eve address continued to illustrate that Putin is uncertain of his ability to shape the Russian information space and remains focused on justifying the war and its costs to his people.

The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said this in a Russian offensive campaign assessment for December 31, Ukrinform reports.

American analysts draw attention to the fact that in his address, Putin once again said that 2022 "was a year of difficult, necessary decisions, of important steps toward achieving the full sovereignty of Russia and the powerful consolidation of our society" and repeated the mantra of "defending our people on our own historical territories."

"This speech continued Putin's rhetorical claims not only that Russia has historical rights to Ukraine, but also that Russia's independence and sovereignty depend on regaining control of Ukraine. Putin thereby attempts to cast victory in the war as essential to Russia's continued existence as an independent state," the report said.

According to ISW analysts, such statements by the Russian dictator were likely meant in part to justify the costly war and to appeal to the ultra-nationalist pro-war community that routinely cites the defense of illegally annexed territories as reason to pursue even more aggressive goals and to pay even higher prices for them in Ukraine.

The Institute for the Study of War believes that these comments also indicate also indicate that Putin remains unwilling to contemplate a meaningful peaceful resolution of the war he began other than on terms he dictates to Ukraine and the West.

"Putin is unlikely to accept any lesser outcome unless Ukraine, with the help of its Western supporters, can inflict additional large-scale defeats on Russian forces and liberate considerably more of its occupied land," the report said.

ISW also noted that Putin did not use his annual speech to make any announcements about how the Russian military intends to reverse its setbacks in Ukraine and achieve his maximalist goals.

"The banality of most of the speech is consistent with previous ISW assessments that Vladimir Putin may have postponed his annual address to the Russian Federation Assembly because he was uncertain of his ability to shape the Russian information space amidst increasing criticism of his conduct of the war," the report said.

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