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Kremlin not sure it can shape Russian information space as Putin postpones his annual address to Federal Assembly – ISW

Vladimir Putin (center) inspects cooking facilities of Prigozhin (right)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alluded decision to postpone his annual address to the Russian Federation Assembly indicates he remains uncertain of his ability to shape the Russian information space amidst increasing criticism of his conduct of the invasion of Ukraine, according to the latest report by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The Russian presidential address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian State Duma and Federation Council is an annual speech introduced to the Russian constitution in February 1994, roughly equivalent to the US President’s annual State of the Union address. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Putin may deliver his address to the Federation Assembly in 2023 and called on Russians to stop “fortune-telling with coffee grounds” regarding the timing of the next address, according to ISW.

An unnamed government source told the Russian state newswire TASS that the countdown for the new address starts from the date of the previous address, noting that the address is unlikely to take place in 2022.

Putin held his last address in late April 2021, discussing his initiatives for the year following the first crisis he caused with the Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border in early 2021.

Putin sets conditions for protracted war, wants to reconstruct Russian Empire in some form – ISW

ISW suggests:

  • The Russian withdrawal from Kyiv Oblast and northern Ukraine in April 2022 likely spoiled Putin’s plans to declare victory during the Federation Assembly address.
  • Putin may not be confident in his ability to justify the cost of his war upon Russian domestic and global affairs when addressing the Russian public and elites. 
  • Putin has already canceled his annual press conference with the members of the Russian public, likely in an attempt to avoid answering questions about Russia’s military failures without resorting to excessively obvious manipulation of questioners and questions. 

Putin admits that Russian army strives to destroy critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine

 

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