In his New Year’s message, Vladimir Putin did not use the word “Ukraine” or the phrase “special military operation”, as the Russian authorities call the invasion of Ukraine that has been ongoing since February 2022. Although Putin praised Russian soldiers for their courage, he primarily emphasized the unity and determination of Russians, writes Reuters, discussing the speech broadcast on Sunday.
The message, pre-recorded and played just before midnight in each of the 11 time zones in Russia, stands in stark contrast to last year’s speech. As Reuters reminds, last year Putin stood in front of soldiers and sternly “called for sacrifices in the name of what he considered a fight for survival.”
According to Reuters, after suppressing manifestations of political dissent in his country, 71-year-old Putin, who has ruled Russia for 24 years, will certainly win the March elections. elections presidential. However, in recent months, as Russia’s war against Ukraine largely stalled, Putin has toned down his earlier harsh nationalist message on Ukraine, focusing more on the economy and inflation – issues that are probably closer to voters.
Putin: there is no force that would divide us
– We have proven time and time again that we can solve the most difficult problems and we will never back down, because there is no force that would divide us, Putin said.
The message made no mention of the hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers who are estimated to have been killed or wounded on the front, or that the war is also emerging on Russian territory, as exemplified by Saturday’s Ukrainian attack on Belgorod, a city more than 30 kilometers away. from the border with Ukraine. Putin’s speech also did not mention the June armed rebellion the late Yevgeny Prigozhinleader of the mercenary Wagner Group.
Main photo source: Reuters