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Putin makes no mention of Ukraine war in New Year’s Eve speech

WASHINGTON – The presidents of Russia and Ukraine took starkly different approaches to their New Year’s Eve speeches late Sunday as their nations rang in yet another new year under war.

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a lengthy, poetic speech uplifting his country’s strength and unity in the face of terror, Russia’s Vladimir Putin gave no mention to the brutal war he launched nearly two years ago that’s so far killed or injured about a half-million troops.

“The year 2023 is coming to an end. Another year of our independence, another year of our fight for independence, another year of war,” Zelensky said. “War for our land, for our freedom, for each other.”

While Zelensky mentioned the words “war” or “warrior” 19 times throughout his address, Putin refused to even mention the terms in his speech, apparently opting instead for warm-fuzzies.

“I would like to convey my very best wishes for the new year to all Russian families. After all, the history of our huge, wonderful, and beloved Motherland is made up of the history of each family,” he said, adding, “We are one country, one big family.”

“Happy New Year, friends! Happy 2024!” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not mention the war in Ukraine during his New Year’s Eve address. Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Ukrainian people on the New Year’s eve, in Kyiv, Ukraine. via REUTERS
Ukrainian firefighters working to extinguish a fire at a museum hit by Russian shelling in Bilogorshche on Jan. 1, 2024. State Emergency Service of Ukraine/AFP via Getty Images

The disturbingly cheerful message from a wartime president came the same day Russia’s new law making more men eligible for the military draft went into effect.

Russia’s lower house of parliament voted last July to raise the age for conscripts from 27 to 30 as Putin’s troops have seen casualties by the hundreds of thousands.

Though Putin made no mention of the new change to draft requirements, he took a moment to address Russia’s military, who he claimed were “displaying the main traits of the Russian people – solidarity, mercy, fortitude.”

“Everyone who is on duty, who is on the front lines fighting for truth and justice, you are our heroes,” he said. “Our hearts are with you. We are proud of you and we admire your courage.”

Putin meeting with Russian troops in Moscow on Jan. 1, 2023. Photo by GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Zelensky shaped his full 20-minute address around the conflict, noting that when Russia invaded Ukraine more than 22 months ago, “few believed we would make it through 2022 – let alone [stay] standing through 2023.”

“Ukraine is alive. Ukraine lives. Ukraine fights. Ukraine advances. Ukraine overcomes the path. Ukraine gains. Ukraine works. Ukraine exists,” he told his fellow countrymen. “And all together, this is not a New Year’s miracle, not a fairy tale, not magic – but the merit of each of you.”

Zelensky also thanked his troops, saying he was “proud of every Ukrainian warrior” for “courageously and heroically defend[ing] us,” offering hope for 2024.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky presenting medals to soldiers in the Donetsk region on Dec. 29, 2023. Pool /Ukrainian Presidentia/Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire

“From the first minutes of Jan. 1 until now – even on New Year’s Eve, when the Ukrainian warrior fights and cannot afford weakness – you are holding back the evil that has become even greater,” he said. “But it couldn’t do anything more, because you fought on every front and every street of ours, in each of our houses. You were strong.”

“You did not surrender a single blue-and-yellow heart. Not a single kilometer of our freedom. It is you. All our warriors. Each and every one who proves: Ukrainians are stronger than evil,” he added.

Residential houses destroyed in a Russian drone strike in Odesa, Ukraine on Jan. 1, 2024. REUTERS/Nina Liashonok

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Written by SaleemBaloch

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