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Vladimir Putin postpones national address amid setbacks in Ukraine conflict

Senior columnist Rick Newman joins Yahoo Finance Live to break down the news surrounding Russian President Putin's postponement of a national address amid Ukrainian advancements.

Video Transcript

RACHELLE AKUFFO: Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly postponing an address to the nation that he was supposed to give tonight. Yahoo Finance senior columnist Rick Newman is here with those details. Rick, this is a big deal.

RICK NEWMAN: Might be. There's a lot of speculation that what Putin is about to do is say that he is mobilizing the country for general war, or something that is beyond the so-called special military operation that his invasion of Ukraine was supposed to be in the first place. And this would matter for a couple of reasons. Number one, it would be a tacit acknowledgment that Russia is losing on the battlefields in Ukraine. They're running out of troops. There is extremely surprising and a successful Ukrainian offensive in the northeast of the country recently.

They're looking to repeat that success now in the southeast. So Putin would be saying, yeah, we're getting our butts kicked. But number two, this would change the way Putin has to present the war within Russia. Up till now, he has been prosecuting this war with what is basically a peacetime army with troops who want to be in the force because they're getting paid more than they would be getting paid otherwise, or some are professional career military. And if he does this, it would be something like instituting a draft where he would compel certain people to be available to join the military.

Now we don't know if that's what he's going to do. But it's pretty interesting that he was going to do-- that give this speech tonight and it got postponed. Some other things going on in Russia, the stock market there cratered today. There were rumors that the president of the Russian central bank, who has been critical in keeping the Russian economy together amid Western sanctions, that she wants to resign. So we'll see what happens here. This now is supposedly going to be aired sometime around 8:00 AM Moscow time, which would be around 1:00 AM in the night, overnight here in the United States on the east coast.

So we'll see what happens when we wake up tomorrow, Rachelle.

DAVE BRIGGS: Rick Dave here. Presumably, he would not signal, Vladimir Putin, if this was going to change beyond conventional weapons. But if it were to, has President Biden been clear about if and when the United States would step in?

RICK NEWMAN: No he has not. And I don't think he is going to clarify that because you don't want to tell the bad guy exactly what our red lines are. President Obama did that famously with regard to Syria. He said, this is a red line Syria shouldn't cross, using chemical weapons. And Syria did use chemical weapons. And Obama didn't really do anything about it, which made the United States look very weak. So I don't think Biden is going to telegraph what the US response to that would be.

And just for what it's worth, it still remains unlikely that Russia would resort to the use of any kind of nuclear weapon including these so-called tactical nuclear weapons, which supposedly have a small enough yield that they wouldn't create massive radioactive fallout all over the place. But that would still be a grave development.

What this does tell us, I think, I mean, Putin is getting increasingly desperate because not only is he failing to achieve his own war aims, which he has reduced as the war has gone badly for Russia on the ground there, he-- they're losing ground. So they are looking like they might start having trouble even holding on to the terrain they held before the February 24 invasion. So this is becoming a rather fraught situation. And stuff is happening that people should pay attention to.

DAVE BRIGGS: Indeed they should. Rick Newman, good to see you, sir. Thank you.