Russia’s defense minister says victory ‘inevitable’ in New Year message

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said victory for Russia over Ukraine was “inevitable” as he hailed Russian soldiers’ heroism in a New Year's video message.

Moscow’s defense chief, who has been heavily criticized by pro-war voices in Russia for battlefield failures during the 10-month campaign, said the situation on the frontlines remained “difficult” and lambasted Ukraine and the West for trying to contain Russia.

“We meet the New Year in a difficult military-political situation,” Shoigu said. “At a time when there are those who are trying to erase our glorious history and great achievements, demolish monuments to the victors over fascism, put war criminals on a pedestal, cancel and desecrate everything Russian.”

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With bloody fighting ongoing across the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) frontline, and Russia not having secured any territorial gains since the first months of the war, Shoigu told Russian soldiers: “Victory, like the New Year, is inevitable.”

Shoigu also praised the “immortal actions, selfless courage and heroism” shown by Russian troops fighting what he called “neo-Nazism and terrorism.”

Kyiv and the West have rejected Russia’s assertion it is fighting “Nazis” in Ukraine as a baseless pretext for President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to seize territory and topple Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a war of unprovoked aggression.

Moscow had expected swift victory in what it calls a “special military operation,” but Ukraine’s spirited resistance and billions of dollars of Western arms have helped Kyiv turn the tide of the war and mount a series of stunning counteroffensives. Ukraine has now reclaimed more than half of the territory seized by Russia during the first weeks of its invasion.

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