Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday (Dec 31) his country would never give in to the West’s attempts to use Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia.
In a New Year’s video message broadcast on Russian state TV, Putin said Russia was fighting in Ukraine to protect its “motherland” and to secure “true independence” for its people.
In a nine-minute message – the longest New Year’s address of his two-decade rule – Putin accused the West of lying to Russia and of provoking Moscow to launch what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“For years, Western elites hypocritically assured us of their peaceful intentions,” he said in a speech filmed in front of Russian service personnel at the headquarters of Russia’s southern military district.
“In fact, in every possible way they were encouraging neo-Nazis who conducted open terrorism against civilians in the Donbas,” Putin said in an uncharacteristically combative New Year’s speech, usually dedicated to well wishes for the year ahead.