In a New Year’s speech, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow “firmly” protected its interests in 2021, a year characterized by unprecedented crackdowns on the opposition and rising tensions with the West.
In a televised statement, Putin stated, “We forcefully and continuously defended our national interests, the security of the country, and (of) citizens.”
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Russian news outlets reported the program, which aired at midnight on the Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula.
Russia has launched a dramatic assault on groups and individuals critical of Putin this year, beginning with the imprisonment of his most vocal critic, Alexei Navalny, in February.
Tensions between Russia and the West have also risen to unprecedented heights as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
In a phone contact with US President Joe Biden on Thursday, Putin discussed the rising tensions.
The Kremlin boss, who has been in charge since 1999, also offered his solidarity for Russians who have lost family members to COVID-19. His country has been affected particularly hard by the epidemic.
“The deadly sickness has taken the lives of tens of thousands of people,” he stated.
“I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to everyone who has lost loved ones, family, or friends,” he continued.
On Thursday, Russia’s national statistics office said that more than 71,000 people died in the country as a result of the coronavirus epidemic in November, establishing a new monthly death record since the outbreak began.
Putin also stated that the “primary purpose” of Moscow in the future is to “increase people’s welfare and quality of life.”
Starting in Kamchatka and finishing in the western Kaliningrad exclave, Russia celebrates New Year across its 11 time zones.