Vladimir Putin’s first-ever public reference to his invasion of Ukraine as a “war” was likely to have been a slip of the tongue, a U.S. official has reportedly said.
A clampdown by Russian authorities since the war started on February 24 has seen the use of the term “war” effectively outlawed and criminalized as disseminating “fake” information about the invasion.
The Kremlin and state media outlets have alwasy called the invasion a “special military operation,” in what experts believed was a way to control the narrative of the conflict and define the terms of its success.
But on Thursday, Putin finally uttered the word that the rest of the world has been using over the 10 months that the brutal conflict he started has been raging.
“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict,” he told reporters, “but, on the contrary, to end this war.”
“We have been and will continue to strive for this,” he said, adding that: “We have never given up on” negotiations and that “sooner or later, any parties in a state of conflict sit down and make an agreement.”
Citing an unnamed U.S. official, CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins tweeted that the “early U.S. view of Putin’s comment” was that it was “not intentional…instead believing it was likely a slip of the tongue given the context of his remarks.”
“He’s avoided saying it for 10 months now, so officials will watch to see how Kremlin explains it in the coming days,” Collins added.
The early U.S. view of Putin’s comment that Russia is engaged in a “war” w/ Ukraine is that it was not intentional, a U.S. official says, instead believing it was likely a slip of the tongue given the context of his remarks.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) December 23, 2022
Regarding Putin’s view about talks ending the war, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said that Putin has “shown absolutely zero indication that he’s willing to negotiate.”
Newsweek has contacted the U.S. State Department and the Russian defense ministry for comment.
Meanwhile, Nikita Yuferev, a St. Petersburg lawmaker opposing the invasion now in exile, sent a letter to the Russian prosecutor general that claimed the Russian president had broken the law by “spreading information that Russia has started a war.”
He said there had been no decree to end the “special military operation,” and as such war was never declared, meaning that Putin should face the same punishment as other Russians who have used the word.
Another Russian exile Georgy Alburov, an associate of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, also said Putin should be imprisoned and get the same treatment as his critic Alexei Gorinov, who was jailed for “spreading fakes” last summer.
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