Putin has postponed his annual marathon phone-in as Ukraine starts re-taking territory in its counteroffensive: report

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Putin has postponed his annual marathon phone-in as Ukraine starts re-taking territory in its counteroffensive: report
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone in his office in Saint Petersburg on December 15, 2018.ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP via Getty Images
  • Vladimir Putin's annual phone-in has been postponed, Kommersant reported.
  • The "Direct Line" dial-in sessions are meant to allow Russians to directly question the president.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has postponed his annual marathon phone-in after Ukraine launched its counteroffensive to reclaim territory, Russian media reported.

The "Direct Line" phone-in usually runs for hours and involves Putin fielding questions from ordinary Russian citizens about a range of social and policy issues.

It has been going since 2001, with Putin missing the event last year for the first time in 18 years after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began to suffer setbacks. He also missed the event in 2004.

A Kremlin source told Russian daily Kommersant that the 2023 event would likely be postponed until November or December, and linked the decision to the situation in Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have launched a counteroffensive to drive back the Russian invasion.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state media agency Tass that no date had been set for the event.

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If held in December, the phone-in would be timed for just before the likely launch of Putin's 2024 presidential campaign.

It's one of a series of scheduled public appearances by Putin that have been cancelled amid the conflict with Ukraine, with last year's phone-in and an annual December press conference also scrapped.

According to reports, Putin has become an increasingly isolated figure during the war, interacting with a closed circle of aides and allies, and fearful of assassination.

A recent drone attack on a wealthy suburb outside Moscow, where Putin has a mansion, shook the Russian president who is now unwilling to travel abroad, according Russian independent outlet Verstka,.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been mired in a stalemate for months. But on Thursday Ukraine launched its much-anticipated counteroffensive to drive Russian forces back from territory in east and south Ukraine.

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