In his annual year-end address broadcasted across all time zones just before midnight, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia would stand firm and never retreat, emphasizing the importance of national unity. The pre recorded speech, lasting just under four minutes and notably shorter than the previous year’s, highlighted Russia’s resilience in facing challenging issues.

While not explicitly mentioning Ukraine, Putin indirectly addressed the ongoing conflict in the country, emphasizing the unifying force of shared national destiny. He commended Russian citizens for their solidarity, compassion, and resilience, praising their understanding of the profound historical stage through which Russia is currently navigating.

In particular, Putin expressed gratitude to the soldiers at the forefront of the conflict, hailing them as heroes and assuring them of the support of the entire nation. Notably absent from his remarks was any mention of the tragic incident in Belgorod, where a deadly shelling on Saturday claimed the lives of 24 people, including three children, and left 108 others injured.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that this year’s New Year celebrations in Moscow were subdued, with the cancellation of the traditional fireworks and Red Square concert, a departure from the previous year. Several other cities also opted to cancel their fireworks displays in the aftermath of the Belgorod attack.