Russian state news agency TASS explained that Putin was referring to two locations: eastern Donbas and the area he calls "Novorossiya" or "new Russia," HuffPost UK reported.
Despite the challenges, Putin expressed hope that the entry of these regions into the common Russian space would happen very soon, along with resolving security issues.
He reiterated his appeal for the annexed eastern Ukrainian territories to become part of Russia, which served as the basis for the 2022 attack, even though it was considered illegal by outsiders.
The term "Novorossiya" historically referred to southern Ukraine, including Crimea, which Russian troops seized a decade ago.
In June 2023, Putin claimed control over “almost all” of the region, but Ukraine's military continues to resist. A summer counteroffensive did not reclaim much territory, and estimates suggest that Russia currently occupies 17.5% of Ukraine's land.
Beyond territorial and national pride, the battle in southern Ukraine also has economic implications. The Foreign Policy Research Institute estimates that Novorossiya contributed about two-thirds of Ukraine's GDP before losing Crimea.
Putin remains optimistic about the four territories, emphasizing that despite extensive combat damage, they will be restored.
His recent statements contrast with his previous declarations that it was "impossible" for Russia to give up any Ukrainian territory. He warned against proposed peace talks, considering them attempts to motivate Russia to abandon its gains.
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While Putin portrays Ukraine's counterattack as a failure and warns of potential damage to Ukrainian statehood, the Institute for the Study of War believes he might be exaggerating. the organization notes that Kherson remains a battleground.
The institute suggests that Putin, at times, uses his role as commander-in-chief for the Russian military as part of his election campaign, with the upcoming election scheduled for the weekend of March 15 to 17.
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