Putin’s national television broadcast cancelled as Russia plots next phase in Ukraine

Putin ‘can’t be sure his troops will do what he wants’ says expert

‘s eagerly anticipated speech has been pushed back until tomorrow at the earliest – prompting speculation about the reasons with Russia seven months into its war on . Referring to Russian journalist and Putin propagandist Vladimir Rudolfovich Soloyyov, Sarah Rainsford, the BBC’s Eastern Europe correspondent, tweeted: “After all that, it seems won’t be speaking today. ‘Tomorrow,’ says Solovyov (& others).”

Referring to Putin’s close adviser, fellow BBC journalist Francis Scarr posted: “Sergei Markov says Putin’s address has been postponed until tomorrow.”

Elena Chernenko, special correspondent with Moscow’s Kommersant daily newspaper, tweeted: “Vladimir Putin’s speech on Ukraine did not happen at 20-00 as it was announced, and it not clear when it will be aired.

“Journalists from the Kremlin pool were writing just half an hour ago that they are ‘waiting’, but it does not seem like something is to happen today.”

The abruptness of the cancellation will inevitably trigger speculation about Putin’s position, given Russian forces have suffered a series of setbacks in Ukraine in recent weeks.

Vladimir Putin Russia President

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President (Image: GETTY)

Sarah Rainsford tweet

Sarah Rainsford’s tweet (Image: Twitter)

The poor performance of Russia’s military since the start of the conflict is also a source of concern within Russia.

In addition, widespread speculation suggests Russia is on the verge of annoucing a full mobilisation, and the introduction of conscription.

Such a move would force Putin to admit his so-called special operation is a full-blown war. 

The State Duma of the Russian Federation today introduced the concepts of “mobilisation,” “martial law,” and “wartime” into its Russian Criminal Code, imposing a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for anyone surrendering voluntarily.

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A destroyed Russian tank near Kharkiv

A destroyed Russian tank near Kharkiv, from where Russian troops have been pushed back (Image: GETTY)

Articles relating to looting and voluntary surrender were added to the Criminal Code.

People convicted of surrender face between three to ten years in prison if there are no signs of treason. Anyone found to be looting can be jailed for 15 years.

Russian stocks plunged to their lowest in a month today amid fears Putin was ready to introduce marial law, with Moscow also announcing plans to hold referendums on Russian-controlled regions in east Ukraine.

Stocks hit their lowest since mid-August, with the dollar-denominated RTS index down 9.2 percent to 1,155.1 points as of 1542 GMT.

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Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (Image: GETTY)

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin may be considering the introduction of conscription (Image: GETTY)

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 8.7 percent lower at 2,218.0 points, earlier sinking to 2,171.92 points, its lowest point since August 16.

Tinkoff Investments analyst Kirill Komarov said: “Indices are clearly collapsing amid fears around the risks of mobilisation and martial law,” adding that Tuesday’s collapse would likely be the MOEX index’s sharpest drop since June 30.

He said: “They are fuelled by news of imminent referendums as well as the president’s order to boost defence output.”

Ukraine Russia

Ukraine’s border disputes with Russia mapped (Image: Express)

Any decision to introduce conscription would be a risky one for Putin.

Speaking to Express.co.uk last month, Dr Patrick Bury, a senior lecturer in security at the University of Bath, said: “Putin is obviously, from an information perspective, very wary of what would happen if he did that in terms of the political public backlash against him.

“He is very concerned about that.”

The UK Ministry of Defence has described brigades of Russian troops in Ukraine as “under manned,” with plummeting morale levels.

Brendan Kearney

Brendan Kearney, a retired US military commander, has said Russian troops have been “useless” (Image: GETTY)

Speaking to the BBC, also last month, Brendan Kearney, the former Chief of Staff with the US Marine Corps Forces Europe in Germany, said: “The Russians have quickly shown that their military is really quite honestly, borderline useless.

“You just can’t perform the way they have in their treatment of civilian populations and expect to be successful on the battlefield.

“It just doesn’t allow for it.

“Because then doesn’t really reflect the required integral strength of an organisation when it can be so ill-disciplined.”