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Zelensky vows 2023 is ‘year of victory’ for Ukraine in new year video address

‘Let this year be the year of return,’ president says

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Sunday 01 January 2023 09:16 GMT
The highs, the lows and everything in between: Look back at 2022 in video

Volodymyr Zelensky has said his “one wish” for 2023 is victory for Ukrainians in the war against Russia.

The Ukrainian president delivered a video address dressed in his trademark khaki military fatigues, just before welcoming the new year in his war-torn country.

“I want to wish all of us one thing - victory. And that’s the main thing. One wish for all Ukrainians,” he said.

The past year has been devastating for Ukraine after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion on February 24.

The Russian president has peddled the narrative that he has embarked upon a “special military operation” to “denazify” Ukraine.

The international community has widely denounced Mr Putin’s aggression, taking continued measures to resist his offensive by imposing economic sanctions upon the country as well as companies and selected individuals connected to the Kremlin and the president.

Despite the wide-sweeping condemnation and political pressure to stop the invasion, Mr Putin has continued to attack Ukraine.

What Moscow was not expecting, however, was for Ukraine to stay standing 10 months later, leaving gaping holes in Russia’s offensive with increasing speed and strength.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

And so on this note, Mr Zelensky vowed: “Let this year be the year of return. The return of our people. Soldiers to their families. Prisoners to their homes. Emigrants to their Ukraine. Return of our lands.

“The return of what has been stolen from us. The childhood of our children, the peaceful old age of our parents.”

His message came as attacks were carried out on New Year’s Eve in Kyiv and other areas of Ukraine, which have left millions without power.

At least one person was killed and 14 others hospitalised as multiple blasts rocked Kyiv and other areas of Ukraine on Saturday.

Some Ukrainians defied the danger, however, to return to the country to reunite with families for the new year‘s holiday.

Ukrainians celebrate the New Year from their balcony during curfew in Kyiv (AP)
A woman holds a sparkler as she dances in Sophia Square before curfew on New Year's Eve in Kyiv (AP)

Ukrainian officials claimed Russia was deliberately targeting civilians, seeking to create a climate of fear to see out a grim 2022 and usher in a bloody new year.

First Lady Olena Zelenska expressed outrage that such missile attacks could come just before New Year‘s Eve celebrations.

“Ruining lives of others is a disgusting habit of our neighbours,” she said.

Mr Zelensky published the video address shortly after Russia launched New Year‘s Eve cruise missiles over Ukraine, which said that Mr Putin was “hiding behind the military, behind missiles, behind the walls of his residences and palaces”.

Addressing the Russians, he added that “no one in the world will forgive you for this. Ukraine will not forgive”.

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