Key moments as Putin delivers first annual press conference since Ukraine war began

'No peace in Ukraine' until Russia achieves its goals, says President Vladimir Putin as he gives rare details into Moscow's invasion

By Daniel Boal, ITV News Multimedia Producer

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised that there will be "no peace in Ukraine" until his goals are achieved.

In his first annual press conference since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Putin answered some unexpected questions from journalists about deep fakes, sports, how much he likes eggs and his bid to complete his "special military operation".

Providing rare details into Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, Putin dismissed the need to mobilise a second wave of reservists to fight - a move that proved unpopular in the past.

He said there are some 617,000 Russian soldiers currently there, including around 244,000 conscripts who were called up to fight alongside professional Russian military forces.

The Russian president, who has held power for nearly 24 years and announced recently he is running for re-election, is expected to speak for hours in front of a crowd.

It is the first time the Russian president will face questions from Western journalists since the war began - though the broadcast remains heavily choreographed and more about spectacle than scrutiny.

'Civil war': Putin describes Russians and Ukrainians as 'one people'

The press conference opened with questions about the conflict in Ukraine and highlighted concerns some Russians have about fears of another wave of mobilisation.

In September 2022, Putin ordered a partial military call-up as he tried to boost his forces in Ukraine, sparking protests.

“There is no need,” for mobilisation now, Putin said, because 1,500 men are being recruited into the Russian army every day across the country.

He said, as of Wednesday evening, a total of 486,000 soldiers have signed a contract with the Russian military.

Putin reiterated that Moscow’s goals in Ukraine - “de-Nazification, de-militarisation and a neutral status” - remain unchanged.

"The Russians and the Ukrainians are one people, essentially, and what we are witnessing now is a great tragedy resembling a civil war between brothers on opposing sides.

"And it is not even their fault, the entire southeast of Ukraine has always been pro-Russian," Mr Putin claimed, without providing any evidence.

Putin: Israeli strikes in Gaza a 'catastrophe'

Israel's offensive on Gaza has been running since Hamas's October 7 attack. Credit: AP

Putin was also quizzed by a reporter on the status of the United Nations and if the global body had lost its function after votes for a ceasefire in Gaza were quashed.

He starting by paying tribute to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who he claims has played a major role in leading efforts to stop Israeli strikes.

"Everything that is happening is a catastrophe," Putin says.

When drawn on comparisons between Israeli strikes and his "special military operation" he said that "nothing like that is happening in Ukraine".

Russian citizens given chance to call in

This year, ordinary citizens had the chance to phone in questions along with those asked by journalists, and Russians reportedly submitted two million queries to Putin. 

One resident asked him why the price of eggs has inflated so much, claiming that a dozen eggs has increased to 220 rubles.

"Please take mercy on retired people, we do not have millions in pensions," she said.

Putin stated that the industry was fine, and that increases in salaries had pushed up demand, a demand that had not been matched by production.

He also added that he is "very happy to eat them, sunny side up. I could eat a dozen of them for breakfast."

'Do you have a lot of twins?': Putin asked questions by deep fake AI double

Putin faced an AI generated double of himself during the broadcast.

As well as Western journalists and civilians, Putin was asked two questions by an AI generated double.

The video broadcast firstly asked the Russian president if he "has a lot of twins" and then what his was his "attitude to dangers with artificial intelligence?"

Putin replied: "You can talk like me and use my voice, but I figured only one person can speak like myself and use my voice, and this is going to be me."

More focused on AI, he dubbed the generated video as his "first twin" and that "unless we can prevent it, we should head and lead the process".

He added: "No one knows, however, where we shall end up."

'When will the real Russia be the same as the one on TV?'

Although the news conference is heavily choreographed, some questions - which Putin didn’t answer - appeared to slip through the net, appearing on screens around the hall.

“Mr. President, when will the real Russia be the same as the one on TV?” one text message said, apparently referring to the Kremlin's control over the media that portrays Putin in a positive light, glosses over the country's problems and highlights its achievements.

Another read: “I’d like to know, when will our president pay attention to his own country? We’ve got no education, no healthcare. The abyss lies ahead.”

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