Saying goodbye a year ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky really wanted to turn to their people to congratulate them on the New Year, while in their speeches there was no indication that the war that began last February was soon over and came close to the end of a full year.
Russian President Putin in his speech said that 2022 was a year of difficult decisions and fateful events, and that Russia is fighting for its independence and moral and historical right on its side.
For the first time, Putin recorded his address to the citizens of Russia on the occasion of the New Year, not against the backdrop of the Kremlin, but among a group of servicemen participating in a special operation.
This nine-minute New Year’s speech was also the longest of its kind for Putin, as he stressed that “defending the Motherland is a sacred duty, and the main concern now is the fate of Russia.”
He emphasized that “the West is brazenly exploiting Ukraine and its people in order to divide and weaken Russia”, stressing that “we will never allow this.” He added: “We have become an inspiring example for other countries in their quest to establish a just multipolar world order.”
Putin especially congratulated all servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces on the New Year, thanking them for their service.
On the other hand, Ukrainian President Zelensky stressed that his country would “not forgive” Russia for its invasion and bombing.
“Terrorism will not forgive you. No one in the world will forgive you,” he wrote in Russian on Telegram.
Similarly, Zelenskiy later announced as part of his New Year’s wishes that 2023 would be the year of “victory” in the war against Russia.
Zelensky said in his speech on the occasion of the new year: “We fight and will fight” until victory, hoping that the new year will be “the year of the return (…) of our lands” to Ukrainian sovereignty.
He praised “Ukraine’s resistance”, saying that last year was the year “Ukraine changed the world”.
Zelensky continued: “We were asked to surrender. We decided to counterattack! We were told to make concessions… We are joining the European Union and NATO.”
Explosions sounded in Kyiv and other places across Ukraine, and sirens sounded across the country warning of airstrikes in the first two hours of the new year.
To the sound of sirens, some people shouted from their balconies: “Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes!”