Putin used the New Year’s address as a rallying cry for Russians

Putin used the New Year’s address as a rallying cry for Russians

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  • The outspoken address of the main family festival puts the war in the spotlight
  • Putin sees war as a struggle for survival that requires sacrifice
  • Russia “protects our people and our historical territory”
  • The president accuses the West of provoking the conflict

Dec 31 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin dedicated his annual New Year’s address on Saturday to rallying the Russian people behind his troops fighting in Ukraine and vowed victory over Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” and the West, which is said to be intent on “destroying Russia”. .

In a stern and combative video address aired on national television, Putin portrayed the war – which he called a “special military operation” – as an almost existential battle for Russia’s future.

Its soldiers, he said, are fighting for “our motherland, truth and justice … so that Russia’s security can be guaranteed.”

For months, the Kremlin portrayed the conflict as a limited campaign that would not affect the lives of most Russians.

But the speech, delivered to grim-faced soldiers in combat uniform, put the war in the spotlight, telling families gathered for the biggest holiday of the year that the coming months would require support and sacrifice from all.

The announcement was broadcast to millions of homes on state television just before the clocks struck midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones, as families gathered for a festive meal and exchanged gifts.

As the war drags into its 11th month with no end in sight, the Kremlin has slowly put society on more of a fighting footing — calling up more than 300,000 reservists, often in a chaotic fashion, retooling an economy hurt by a barrage of Western sanctions and saying publicly, that the conflict may be long.


Moscow was unprepared for the stiff resistance and billions of dollars in Western arms that turned the tide in Ukraine’s favor, and Russian troops were forced to withdraw from more than half the territory they captured in the first weeks of the war.

In the nine-minute address – the longest of his 22 years in power – Putin targeted those who oppose the conflict, a personal crusade that now defines his mandate and Russia’s relationship with the world.

The past year, he said, “has put a lot of things in their place – clearly separating courage and heroism from treachery and cowardice.”

Rejecting Kyiv’s calls for Russian troops to leave as a precursor to talks, Putin said Russia was “defending our people and our historic territory”.

He also accused the West of lying to Russia and provoking Moscow to launch a military campaign.

“The West lied about peace,” Putin said. “He was preparing for aggression … and now they are cynically using Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia.

“We have never allowed this and we will never allow anyone to do this to us.

Kyiv and the West reject Putin’s oft-repeated claim that the Western NATO alliance planned to use Ukraine as a platform to threaten Russia and say he launched a baseless war of aggression in an attempt to seize territory and install a regime he prefers .

Although Russia has not achieved much success on the battlefield in the past six months, Putin has promised final victory.

“Together we will overcome all difficulties and preserve the greatness and independence of our country,” he said.

“We will triumph for our families and for Russia.

Reporting by Jake Cordell; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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