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MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin rallyed the Russian people behind his army fighting in Ukraine in his annual New Year’s speech on Saturday, intending to “destroy Russia” with Ukraine’s ‘neo-Nazis’. He devoted himself to pledging victory over the Western powers that seemed to be fighting.

In a grim, militant taped video message aired on state television, Putin called the war a “special military operation” and described it as an almost existential battle for Russia’s future.

The soldiers were fighting “for our country, for truth, for justice … so that Russia’s security is guaranteed,” he said.

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

But the speech, delivered in front of stern-faced soldiers in combat uniforms, put the war right on center stage and reminded the families gathered at this year’s major celebrations that the coming months will be all the same. I told them that they would need support and sacrifice from others.

The message was broadcast to millions of homes on state television just before the clock struck midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones, where families attended festive meals and exchanged gifts.

As the war enters its 11th month with no end in sight, the Kremlin has slowly put society on a war footing. He has publicly stated that the conflict could be protracted.

“We will win”

Moscow is unprepared for the change in Ukraine’s favor with its determined resistance and multi-billion dollar Western arsenal, with Russian forces occupying half of the territory it occupied in the first weeks of the war. More than kicked out.

In a nine-minute speech, the longest of his 22 years in office, Putin targeted those who opposed the conflict. This is now a personal crusade that will define his tenure and relations between Russia and the world.

Last year, he said, “we put a lot of things in place to clearly separate courage and heroism from betrayal and cowardice.”

Putin rejected Kyiv’s request to withdraw Russian troops as a preliminary step to negotiations, saying Russia was “protecting its people and its historical territory.”

He also accused the West of lying to Russia and provoking Moscow into launching a military operation.

Putin said, “The West lied about peace. It was preparing for an invasion…and now they are ironically using Ukraine and its people to undermine and divide Russia.” .

“We have never allowed this, and we will never let anyone do this to us.” Putin uses New Year’s speech as a rallying cry for wartime Russians

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