Pugnacious Putin Lashes out at Zelensky and the West in Grim New Year's Speech

Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

As Russia unleashed another round of missiles into Ukraine Saturday, President Vladimir Putin raged against the West for trying to divide Russia and vowed to continue escalating the disastrous war. Speaking in front of troops at the Southern Military District staff headquarters in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, he said:


It was a year of truly pivotal, fateful events.

They have become the frontier that lays the foundation for our common future, our true independence. This is what we are fighting for today, protecting our people in our own historical territories, in the new regions of the Russian Federation.

The speech was prerecorded and aired at midnight across the country’s 11 time zones.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and despite predictions of a quick Russian Federation victory, the conflict has raged on and led to the deaths of an estimated 100,000 Russian soldiers. The U.S. and its Western allies responded by enacting numerous sanctions against the former Soviet Union and sending billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine. Putin accused his enemies of trying to weaken his country:

The West was lying about peace, while preparing for an aggression. They are cynically using Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia. We have never allowed anyone to do so, and we will not allow this to happen in the future.


Health rumors, whispers of a possible coup, and a rash of mysterious deaths among oil oligarchs and Putin critics have marred the strongman’s not-so-good year. Improbably, Vlad thinks all this is leading to a more united society:

“2022 was a year of difficult, necessary decisions, the most important steps towards gaining full sovereignty of the Russian Federation and powerful consolidation of society,” he said.

“This is the year that put many things in their proper place, clearly separated courage and heroism from betrayal and cowardice, and showed that there is no higher power than love for one’s family and friends, loyalty to friends and comrades-in-arms, and devotion to one’s motherland.”

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky fired back with his own New Year’s speech roasting Putin:

“This war that you are waging, Russia, it is not with NATO, as your propagandists lie. It is not for historical reasons,” Zelensky said. “Your leader wants to show that he has the military behind him and that he is in front. But he is just hiding. He hides behind the military, behind missiles, behind the walls of his residences and palaces.”

“He hides behind you and burns your country and your future. No one will ever forgive you for this terror,” he continued. “Ukraine will never forgive.”


Although Putin recently said he was willing to negotiate for peace, his actions have shown otherwise. This bellicose, combative speech does not bode well for any hopes of an imminent conclusion to this debacle. Putin himself, meanwhile, looked old and bitter, and one can’t help but ponder that some of the health rumors are true, and he may be suffering from megalomania brought on by cancer drugs.

If you truly wanted to give us a happy new year, Mr. Putin, you would exit stage left.


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