Vladimir Putin issued a furious and rambling New Year’s Eve message to Russians today. The Kremlin chief appeared fatigued as he addressed Russians in each of the country’s 11 time zones before midnight. In a break with his own tradition, President Putin used a backdrop of military troops instead of the snowy Kremlin for the first time in his reign.

BBC’s Francis Scarr tweeted the unusual background: “Putin’s traditional New Year’s message looks a little different this year.”

Speaking from a military base, President Putin said 2022 was a “year of difficult, necessary decisions, the most important steps toward gaining full sovereignty of Russia and powerful consolidation of our society”.

The address lasted nine minutes, the longest of his 22 years in power. He railed against the West during the address, saying: “The West lied about peace but was preparing for aggression, and today it admits it openly, no longer embarrassed.

“And they cynically use Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia. We have never allowed anyone and will not allow anyone to do this.”

In an often rambling tirade, President Putin said that this year had “put a lot of things in their place – clearly separating courage and heroism from betrayal and cowardice”.

He promised a Russian victory over Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” and accused the West of trying to “destroy Russia”.

The Russian leader said: “Together, we will overcome all difficulties and preserve our country’s greatness and independence.”

“We will triumph, for our families and for Russia,” he said.

READ MORE: Ukraine called on Russians to avoid mobilization at all cost

On Friday, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said that President Putin would no longer communicate with journalists as before, due to the pandemic.

He said that the Russian leader’s health was “a matter of state security” and officials would not risk infection.

In a news conference, Mr Peskov raised concerns about “mutation processes going on, and you see how strong the epidemiological waves of influenza of different strains are”.

Earlier this month, President Putin canceled his annual large press conference, an event he has held every year since 2012.

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