President Vladimir Putin said in his New Year’s address Saturday that “moral, historical rightness” is on Russia’s side as his country faces international condemnation for its offensive in Ukraine.
As Russian regions in the Far East rung in the New Year, the Russian leader delivered his traditional midnight address standing among soldiers who fought in Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies.
Putin said in remarks carried by news agencies that this year was marked by “truly pivotal, fateful events” which became “the frontier that lays the foundation for our common future, for our true independence”.
“Today we are fighting for this, protecting our people in our own historical territories, in the new constituent entities of the Russian Federation,” he added, referring to Ukrainian regions that Russia claimed to have annexed.
“Moral, historical rightness is on our side,” he said.
The Russian leader also said that “a real sanctions war was declared on us” after the world’s top democracies slapped Moscow with a barrage of sanctions in response to military action in Ukraine.
“Those who started it expected the total destruction of our industry, finances, transport. That didn’t happen,” he added.
According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin delivered his New Year’s speech from the headquarters of Russia’s southern military district, where he was on a visit earlier on Saturday and presented awards to servicemen.
Among the recipients of the awards was Russia’s commander in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, Russian news agencies said.
Footage shown on Russian state TV showed Putin raising a glass of champagne with soldiers — both men and women — dressed in military uniform.
“Russia was driven to the point of either surrendering everything or fighting. A long as we have people like you… of course nothing can be given up,” Putin told them.