World ‘Don’t run for president’ text message beamed on screen...

‘Don’t run for president’ text message beamed on screen in front of Putin during live broadcast


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600,000 Russian troops in Ukraine

The rest of the phone-in appeared to be running as planned by the Kremlin which had organised for Putin to face a mixture of soft domestic questions and to receive the adulation of children and frontline soldiers.

A group of Russian soldiers wearing badges with Putin’s face on their uniforms asked about promoting the military more heavily to children as they stood in what appeared to be a bunker near the frontline. In the background, shots could be heard.

During the phone-in, Putin said that there wouldn’t be a second mobilisation.

“Why do we need a mobilisation? Today there is no need for this,” he said.

This was the first phone-in that Putin has faced since his soldiers invaded Ukraine in February 2022. He skipped the session last December because his forces were on the backfoot.

He used the phone-in to claim more than 600,000 Russian troops were now in Ukraine, double the number that entered during the initial stages of the invasion. He also criticised the Kyiv war machine and ruled out a further round of mobilisation.

Putin has looked increasingly confident over the past few months because his forces have fought off a Nato-backed counter-offensive in Ukraine and Western support for Kyiv is beginning to fracture.


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