Russian President Vladimir Putin did not mention Ukraine by name, nor the "special military operation" — the Kremlin's dubious term for its war against Ukraine — in his short and muted New Year address on Dec. 31.
The pre-recorded speech aired just before midnight as Russia's eastern regions ushered in 2024 and ran just under four minutes, which is significantly shorter than last year's address. Putin only mentioned the war in passing by thanking Russian soldiers.
"Today, I want to address our servicemen to all those who are on duty, at the front lines of the fight for truth and justice: You are our heroes and our hearts are with you," Putin said in a recording of the speech pub.
In his address, Putin claimed that 2023 was a year of unprecedented unity in Russian society.
“What united us and unites us is the fate of the Fatherland, a deep understanding of the highest significance of the historical stage through which Russia is passing," he said.
"We have repeatedly proven that we can solve the most difficult problems and will never retreat because there is no force that can divide us and make us forget the memory and faith of our fathers."
Putin also left out of his address a Dec. 30 incident in Russia's western city of Belgorod in which Moscow claimed a Ukrainian air strike killed at least 20 people and injured more than 100.
Unlike last year's speech which Putin gave alongside Russian soldiers and called for sacrifice, Putin made his brief address with the traditional backdrop of the Kremlin walls.
Amid the ongoing war, authorities in several Russian cities, including in Moscow, canceled fireworks displays as they pledged to send money to the front rather than purchase New Year decorations.