Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the headquarters of his country’s Southern Military District and recorded a New Year’s video message on Saturday.

In the nine-minute recording – the longest New Year’s speech of his regime – Putin said “moral, historical justice is on our side”.

“This is a year of truly important, fateful events. These events have become this border, which lays the foundation for our common future, for our true independence,” he said, alluding to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

“This is a year of difficult and necessary decisions, very important steps towards the full sovereignty of Russia and the powerful integration of our society,” he added.

Putin registered the address at a military base in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

During his visit on Saturday, the Russian leader spoke to military commanders and presented battle flags to new military formations. He presented state awards to veterans who showed “courage and heroism” in what Moscow calls a “special military operation,” which Moscow describes as its invasion of Ukraine.

“2022 is coming to an end. This is the year that clearly separated courage and heroism from treachery and cowardice, and showed that there is no higher power than love for family and relatives, loyalty to friends and comrades, devotion to the motherland,” Putin said in his message to the nation.

Although Russia has suffered from Western sanctions for years, “a real sanctions war has been declared against us this year,” Putin said.

“Those who started this expected our industry, finances and transportation to be completely destroyed. This did not happen because together we have created a credible security, and what we have done and are doing in this area is aimed at strengthening our sovereignty in the most important area, the economy,” he continued.

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More context: Thousands of people have been killed, entire villages destroyed and billions of dollars of infrastructure destroyed since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

On that day, Putin used the term “special military operation” to describe his attack. He has Shaped the ongoing brutality A narrative rejected by historians and political observers – the “denazification” campaign – also portrays Russia’s unprovoked invasion as a patriotic and almost existential cause.

CNN’s Radina Kikova and Rhea Mogul contributed to this report.

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