31 Dec 2023, 18:47

Putin praises army in low key New Year's Eve address

MOSCOW, Dec 31, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - President Vladimir Putin praised the Russian army in his New Year's Eve address Sunday, calling for "unity" in a scaled-back speech that did not explicitly mention the conflict in Ukraine.

In stark contrast to last year, when the Kremlin chief was flanked by soldiers in uniform, Putin described 2024 as the "year of the family" in front of the traditional backdrop of the Kremlin.

"We have repeatedly proved that we are able to solve the most difficult tasks and will never back down, because there is no force that can separate us," Putin said in the address, aired on state TV.

"To all those who are on duty, on the front line of the fight for truth and justice," Putin said, "you are our heroes. Our hearts are with you. We are proud of you, we admire your courage."

The televised New Year's Eve speech, which continues a tradition started by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, is a holiday staple in Russia, watched in millions of households.

It is aired just before midnight in each of Russia's 11 timezones, and is usually a summary of events of the past year as well as wishes for the year ahead.