Russian TV Avoids Mention of Ukraine War Anniversary amid ‘Failures’

Russian state TV likely avoided mentioning the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine amid the country’s “failures” to achieve its stated strategic goals in the conflict and extensive troop losses, a U.S.-based think tank has said.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) made the assessment in its latest analysis of the conflict in Ukraine on Sunday, after Agentstvo, a Russian investigative site, highlighted that the anniversary of the war, which fell on February 24, was barely mentioned on state television.

Two years on, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has inflicted devastating damage on both Kyiv and Moscow. The Russian leader had hoped that what he calls his “special military operation” in Ukraine would quickly lead to the collapse of Kyiv’s Western-leaning government. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers are estimated to have been killed in the conflict on both sides.

“Russian officials and state-run and state-affiliated TV channels likely refrained from commenting on the two-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion to avoid drawing attention to Russia’s failures to achieve its stated strategic goals in Ukraine and its more immediate goals of seizing all of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, while also suffering high personnel losses,” the ISW said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow on February 23, 2024. Russian investigative site Agentstvo has highlighted that the…

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The think tank said a recent opinion poll, conducted by independent Russian opposition polling organization Chronicles between January 23 and 29, suggests that “Russian sentiments about the war in Ukraine have largely remained unchanged in recent months and that most Russians are largely apathetic to the conflict, though most do not support a second wave of mobilization.”

Mention of the war anniversary was therefore likely largely avoided by state TV and Kremlin officials “in an effort to maintain public apathy toward the war that, in part, allows Russian officials to continue the war without significant public backlash,” the ISW said.

“ISW continues to assess that Putin is likely aware that a second mobilization wave would be widely unpopular and is concerned that such a measure would generate widespread discontent,” the think tank’s update concluded, adding, however, that Putin may change his approach to the topic after his re-election in the presidential election in March.

Putin may “determine that Russian force generation requirements outweigh the risks of widespread domestic discontent,” the ISW said.

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s foreign ministry for comment by email.

On the eve of the two-year anniversary of the Ukraine war, Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, vowed that Washington will continue to back the Ukrainian people in “defending their homeland.”

“Putin’s war threatens not only Ukraine, but also the security of the United States, our NATO Allies, and the free and open international order we depend on,” he said in a statement.

“It is imperative that we defend the basic rules that have undergirded peace, security, and prosperity since the end of World War II, including sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the right of states to choose their own future,” Blinken added.

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