A Russian spokesperson rejected speculation that President Vladimir Putin formally would declare war on Ukraine as part of his country's May 9 Victory Day celebrations marking the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.
Putin began the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, but has maintained Russian troops are conducting a "special military operation," with the goal being "denazification" of the former Soviet Union country.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace last week said Putin was "going to have to admit, if he wants to mobilize more of the Russian people, that it is a war," and that the president would do so by May 9.
"No. We have already answered this question," Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said after being asked if a Victory Day announcement was forthcoming, The Washington Post reported.
"No, this is nonsense."
Victory Day in Russia includes nationalistic parades and other pageantry. Russian soldiers were being told that the war must end by then, according to a March 24 Facebook post by General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces.
Last month, Pope Francis said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told him "the Russians have a plan, that everything [in Ukraine] will be over on May 9," Corriere della Sera reported.
State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday was asked whether he expected Putin to declare war on May 9.
"We are not going to preview what the Russians may seek to do on the so-called Victory Day on May 9th," Price said during a press briefing.
"I suppose I would add that that would be a great irony if Moscow used the occasion of Victory Day to declare war, which in itself would allow them to surge conscripts in a way they're not able to do now, in a way that would be tantamount to revealing to the world that their war effort is failing, that they are floundering in their military campaign and military objectives."
Peskov also blamed Ukraine for peace negotiations being at an impasse.
"They change their position every day," Peskov said, the Post reported. "This does not inspire confidence that this negotiation process can somehow end successfully."
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