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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in his New Year address early on Monday, January 1, said Ukraine had become stronger in overcoming serious difficulties as the war against Russia moves toward its second year.
But Zelenskiy’s slick 20-minute video message, delivered from his Kyiv office, made almost no direct reference to the situation on the 1,000-km (600-mile) front line or the limited success of a counteroffensive launched in June.
Nor did he refer to the political and diplomatic difficulties in securing continued military and other aid from both the United States Congress and the European Union.
Zelenskiy said the war had taught Ukrainians to withstand Russian attacks and adapt to hardships, including blackouts, the operation of industry and threats to shipping its exports.
“The major result of the year, its main achievement: Ukraine has become stronger. Ukrainians have become stronger,” Zelenskiy said in the address, interspersed with footage of cities under attack and meetings with leaders of Ukraine’s Western allies.
“When, at the beginning of 2023… we surmounted, without exaggeration, the most difficult winter in history. When we proved that Ukrainians are tougher than cold and darkness. Stronger than power outages and blackout threats.”
“Ukrainians are stronger than any blockades and vetoes, disbelief or skepticism,” he said.
Zelenskiy pointed to Ukrainian successes in containing and attacking Russia’s navy in the Black Sea, confirmed “by their large landing ships, missile-armed and patrol corvettes on the bottom of the sea.”
Ukrainians were “stronger than any intrigues,” he said, in putting together groups of Western countries for improving Ukrainian air defenses and pledging to supply F-16 fighter aircraft.
“We will definitely see them in our skies,” he said of the F-16s, while repeating a promise to boost domestic weapons production and produce at least 1 million drones in the next year.
And in a reference to questions of ensuring that the Ukrainian military had sufficient numbers of troops, he urged those who are “still hesitating to make a bold choice next year, to defend their own country, to work for it, to help it.” – Rappler.com