Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky both delivered New Year’s Eve addresses to their countries, where they vowed to continue fighting as the war shows no sign of slowing down in 2023.
In his speech, Putin reiterated that he has no intention of leaving the areas Russian forces have captured and annexed, saying Russia is fighting to protect people “in the new regions of the Russian Federation.”
Putin took aim at the US and its European allies, saying the West “lied to us about peace while preparing for aggression,” likely referring to recent comments from former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She said in December that the Minsk accords that were brokered by France and Germany and meant to end the Donbas war were really an effort to “give Ukraine time” to build up its military.
“Today, they no longer hesitate to openly admit it and to cynically use Ukraine and its people as a means to weaken and divide Russia. We have never allowed anyone to do this, and we will not allow it now,” Putin said.
The Russian leader concluded his speech by vowing that Russia would continue the fight. “We will only move forward, to fight for our families and for Russia, for the future of our only, beloved Motherland,” he said.
Zelensky said in his address that the previous 10 months of fighting has shown the world Ukraine doesn’t need to make compromises and hinted that he would never agree to Russian demands of neutrality. “This is the year when Ukraine changed the world. And the world discovered Ukraine. We were told to surrender. We chose a counterattack! We were told to make concessions and compromises. We are joining the European Union and NATO,” Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian leader said that he wished for victory, which according to Ukrainian officials, means kicking Russia out of the territory it has captured, including Crimea. While Ukraine did retake Kharkiv and Kherson city, territory has not changed hands much since then.
Fighting has been raging in eastern Ukraine, and the Russian Defense Ministry has been reporting heavy Ukrainian casualties, although the numbers are not confirmed. Russia has reinforced its positions in the east since ordering the mobilization of 300,000 fresh troops, but it’s not yet clear if they plan on launching a major offensive.
While the battle lines haven’t changed much, the situation for civilians across Ukraine is a dire one as Russia has been pounding Ukrainian energy infrastructure, leaving millions without power and heat for the winter. Russian missiles and drones continued to hit targets across the country on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.