Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled his traditional end-of-year press conference amid fears it would be “hijacked” by anti-war protesters, according to U.K. intelligence.
It will be the first time in a decade that the Q&A — normally a fixture of the Moscow political calendar — has not gone ahead.
In their latest intelligence update on the Ukraine conflict, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said: “The cancellation is likely due to increasing concerns about the prevalence of anti-war feeling in Russia.”
They added: “Kremlin officials are almost certainly extremely sensitive about the possibility that any event attended by Putin could be hijacked by unsanctioned discussion about the ‘special military operation.’”
The cancellation came as Russia’s spokesman Dimitry Peskov admitted that “no one likes us” as evidence mounts that Putin’s military strategy is not going to plan.
Ukraine has successfully reclaimed 54% of the land Russia has seized since its February invasion.
And in their assessment of the war yesterday, the MoD said: “Russia’s strategy is currently unlikely to achieve its objectives: it is highly unlikely that the Russian military is currently able to generate an effective striking force capable of retaking these areas.
“Russian ground forces are unlikely to make operationally significant advances within the next several months.”
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