Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin conducted an over four hour marathon call in question and answer session on Thursday. As (post)Western journalists never tire of pointing out, the annual affair is mostly scripted, with the questions reviewed in advance.
There are however, some public comments that appear on screen during the telecast which are not pre-screened, and Putin often uses the forum to make new statements about important policy issues, even on topics where the Russian President’s thoughts are well known. One of these is the subject of the U.S./NATO supported war, now dragging into its fourth year, in which Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed Donbass fighters remain locked in a stalemate. A conflict that in recent weeks has heated up, with the UAF determined to seize high ground around the city of Gorlovka and the Svitlodarsk bulge in the front lines, but failing to achieve a decisive breakthrough. With Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko facing the prospect of new elections as his approval rating shrinks to almost zero, the risk of escalation designed to draw in Russian forces during an international sports showcase for Moscow seems high.Read More