“Moral and historical right is on our side”

According to the Kremlin, speaking to soldiers who fought in Ukraine and whom he has now decorated, Vladimir Putin spoke of the past year as full of “really decisive and important events” that “laid the foundations (. . .) of our true freedom.”

“That is what we are fighting for today, protecting our people in our own historical territories, in Russia’s new constituent entities,” he added.

After launching a military offensive against Ukraine in February, Russia claimed in September to annex four Ukrainian territories it at least partially controls, modeled on the Crimean peninsula in March 2014.

The Russian president also accused the West of “a veritable embargo war declared on us”. “Those who started it expected the total destruction of our industry, our finances and our transportation. It didn’t happen,” he added.

He accused the Americans and Europeans of “cynically using Ukraine and its people to weaken and divide Russia.”

“The West is lying about peace and preparing for aggression. Today, he is not ashamed to admit it in broad daylight,” said the Russian head of state.

“Together we will overcome all difficulties and keep our country great and free. We will go forward and win, for the good of our families and for the good of Russia,” he concluded.

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Vladimir Putin eulogized the memory of former Pope Benedict XVI after his death, hailing the Russian president as a “defender of traditional Christian values” who also wanted to be an apostle. “Benedict XVI was an outstanding religious and state figure, a faithful defender of traditional Christian values,” he wrote in a condolence message for Pope Francis broadcast from the Kremlin.

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