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Ukraine's Zelenskiy Makes Defiant Stand In New Year's Address

(Article text ©2022 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty - rferl.org - KYIV, Jan. 1, 2022 - article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/ukraine-zelenskiy-new-year-address/31635495.html)

For weeks now, tens of thousands of Russian troops have been massed at positions north and east of Ukraine’s borders and in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow seized control over in 2014.

And against a backdrop of provocative comments from President Vladimir Putin targeting Kyiv, and Kremlin demands that Ukraine be kept out of NATO forever, U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence agencies have warned that Russia has been preparing for a possible military offensive that could begin within a month.KYIV -- In his annual New Year's message broadcast late on December 31, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed defiance amid a buildup of Russian forces on the other side of the country's border with Russia.

"No army on the other side of the border frightens us," he said, "because a great army on our side of the border protects us."

His remarks came amid high tensions between Moscow and the West over the troop buildup and Moscow's demands for broad "security guarantees" in Europe and Central Asia.

Authorities in Kyiv have expressed concerns that Russia could invade Ukraine in the coming weeks.

Zelenskiy said ending the war between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatist formations in parts of eastern Ukraine remains the "main goal" of his government, promising that "next year will be better."

The Ukrainian president expressed confidence that Crimea would "one day" be returned to Kyiv's control.

"We can say we have returned Crimea to the global agenda so that one day we can say we have returned Crimea to Ukraine," Zelenskiy said. "And it is important that all the prisoners are returned. Every one."

Zelenskiy also expressed support for citizens of the Russia-occupied Ukrainian region of Crimea who had been detained by the Russia-imposed authorities there.

He said they "did not lose their dignity and told the truth about Crimea, for which they lost their freedom."

While he was speaking, the video showed clips of RFE/RL freelance correspondent Vladyslav Yesypenko, who was detained in Crimea in March and who has said he was tortured while in custody.

Key Words: Russia, Ukraine, Russian Military, Russo-Ukrainian War, Ukrainian Military, Crimea, Occupied Crimea, Zelinsky

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