Putin Skirts Talk of 'Special Operation' as Ukraine War Takes Toll—Report

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not spoken unprompted about his invasion of Ukraine for more than a week, according to one analysis of his public comments.

The Russian language independent news outlet Agentsvo examined the pronouncements made by Putin and noticed that he has only mentioned Ukraine "casually" or in response to someone else's comments since the end of last month.

Agentsvo said the last time Putin spoke about what the Kremlin calls a "special military operation" was on May 25 to meet what state media said were injured soldiers at Mandryk military hospital in Moscow.

Putin's appearance sparked social media speculation over whether those he met were genuine troops.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, on June 1, 2022. Russian language news outlet Agentsvo reported that Putin has not mentioned the war in Ukraine directly for more than a week. MIKHAIL METZEL/Getty Images

That day, Putin also discussed the "special operation" at the Ministry of Emergency Situations and during a State Council meeting.

But, the outlet noted that the only longer period during which Putin did not talk about the war was between March 28 to April 12, during which time he made few public appearances.

Citing a presidential administration source, independent Russian outlet Meduza said that ahead of the 100th day of the war, the Kremlin had ordered state-run media not to focus on the duration of the invasion, due to a degree of war fatigue among Russians.

Newsweek has contacted the Kremlin for comment.

Although Russian state media only portray a positive view of the war, Putin's campaign has been beset by errors and huge troop losses and his forces have had to retreat from Kyiv and are focused on the eastern Donbas.

A survey conducted of 1,400 people between May 23 and May 26 found that 40 percent of Russians had tired of hearing military news.

Putin held talks on Friday in the southern city of Sochi with African Union Chairman Macky Sall, who raised the looming food supply crisis for which Kyiv and its allies blame Russia because of its blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports preventing the export of grain.

However, in the public part of the talks published on the Kremlin website, no mention was made of the war. Sall, who is president of Senegal, told Putin that African countries were among the victims of the war.

Sall said he was given assurances by the Russian leader that he would allow the export of cereals and fertilizers, although there were no further details.

Meanwhile, during an interview with Pavel Zarubin, a journalist with state channel Russia 24, Putin only spoke about Ukraine and military operations within the economic context of the food crisis, Agentstvo reported.

Putin was asked about the impact of sanctions that the European Union imposed on Russia. On the list is Alina Kabaeva, who is reportedly his girlfriend, although her name was not raised in the interview.

Putin predicted sanctions, including those on Russian fertilizers, would lead to higher food prices and that "will worsen the situation on the world fertilizer markets."