"No matter what 2024 brings us, we will be stronger": Zelenskyy's New Year's address. Full text and video
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a traditional New Year's address to Ukrainians. Summarizing the results of 2023, he said that Ukrainians have become stronger and will remain strong no matter what 2024 brings.
The President's speech was broadcast on a national telethon. "The year 2023 is coming to an end very soon. Another year of our independence. Another year of our struggle for independence. Another year of war. The war for our land. For our freedom. For each other," Zelensky said at the beginning of his address.
He added that 2023 was different for everyone, but there is something that unites all Ukrainians.
"The main result of the year, its main achievement: Ukraine has become stronger. Ukrainians have become stronger," the president summarized.
According to Zelenskyy, 676 days ago, all Ukrainians were challenged, with missiles flying from all sides and an enemy invasion.
"676 days ago, at this very place, I addressed you, Ukrainians, and announced the beginning of a full-scale war. We did not know then what was ahead of us. Many did not believe that we would survive a week. Few believed that we would elect 2022, let alone survive the 23rd. And today we are facing 2024," he said.
Zelensky also emphasized that no matter what, Ukraine is alive, it is fighting and beating, moving, overcoming, winning, working.
"Ukraine exists. And all together, this is not a New Year's miracle. This is not a fairy tale, not magic, but the merit of each of you. Each of the millions of Ukrainians. Everyone who has been proving every day and every night this year that Ukrainians are stronger!" the Ukrainian leader said.
He reminded that in January and February 2023, Ukrainians had overcome the most difficult winter in history, proving that they were stronger than cold and darkness, blackouts and the threat of blackout. The Head of State expressed confidence that the Ukrainian people "will overcome any shortage of electricity because they have no shortage of resilience and courage."
"We did not disappear in the darkness. The darkness did not swallow us. The darkness lost to us. Our energy has survived. Our country has survived. It won this year. And I want to thank all those who made this possible in the first place. All our Security and Defense Forces," Zelensky thanked.
He said that he was proud of every Ukrainian soldier who is tirelessly defending their homeland:
"As long as you exist, Ukraine exists. I know how courageously and heroically you are defending us. All this time. The time of heavy, fierce daily battles. From the first minutes of January 1 to the present day, even on New Year's Eve, when Ukrainian soldiers are fighting and have no right to give up. You are holding back the evil that has become even greater. But which could do nothing else. Because you fought in every direction and in every street, in every house. You were strong. You did not surrender a single blue and yellow heart. Not a single kilometer of our freedom. It is you. All our warriors. Each and every one who proves that Ukrainians are stronger than evil."
Zelensky also thanked the people of Ukraine and said he was proud of every citizen of Ukraine.
"Everyone is strong. And I know how difficult it is for everyone today. Everyone who has put their lives on hold. Who put everything on hold for later, for after the victory. Everyone who says: "I am working, and this is not a feat, but a duty. I am donating, and this is not a feat, but a norm." Everyone who works and fights every day because they know that wars do not end by themselves - they end. And victory is not won or given - it is won. And for this purpose, today we must live by the rule: either you work or you fight. Because the world's largest terrorist organization is against us. And it is obvious how much more we have to do, how much more active we have to be, how much stronger our unity and struggle have to be," he said.
Everyone who does not ask themselves "what can I do?" every day, but lives by the formula "I have to do more than I can," the Ukrainian leader added. According to him, this is exactly what the word "win" means - "to win, to overcome yourself, to overcome, to make an extra effort and do more than it seemed at first glance," because in fact, everyone is capable of more. Our heroic people prove this every day, Zelensky said.
"Our medics, saving soldiers at the front and people in civilian towns and villages. Those who prove that Ukrainians are stronger than pain, injury and death. These are our firefighters and rescuers who show that Ukrainians are stronger than fire and rubble. These are the people who prove that Ukrainians are stronger than any circumstances, stronger than hopelessness. Our teachers who teach children despite the war. Online, in person or by setting up a school in the Kharkiv subway. Our railroad workers, our drivers, signalmen, engineers . Our volunteers, our diplomats, Ukrainian business, everyone who pays taxes and gives Ukrainians jobs, everyone who sows and harvests and gives Ukrainians bread, everyone who gives Ukrainians shelter, everyone who makes shells and ammunition, who repairs and builds, restores and revives, who works every day, who proves every day that Ukrainians are stronger than fatigue. This means that Ukrainians are stronger than this war. February 24 convinced us of this," the president said.
Zelenskyy also emphasized that the war had taught Ukrainians a lot. It separated families, took away sons and daughters, and at the same time united the people into one big family. On February 24, Ukrainians made a choice and it was different.
Some stayed in Ukraine, some fled, some were blocked, some took their children out, some went to the front, some saved others, some left and stayed, and some left and returned to Ukraine.
"And these are people's stories, stories of boys and girls. Those who could not stay at home and went to the front. And those who could no longer stay abroad, somewhere far from home, and returned. Having realized and said to themselves: "I care. I am needed here. Victory needs me, Ukraine needs me." The one who proved that I am stronger than fear. The one who proved that I am stronger than doubts. Because I know that one day I will have to ask myself: who am I? To make a choice about who I want to be. A victim or a victor? A refugee or a citizen? And everyone knows the answer. And the answer is Ukraine. Because Ukrainians are stronger together. So it's time to be together!" he said.
And this is the time that all those Ukrainians who are now in the temporarily occupied territories and have not lost Ukraine in themselves, all those who keep Ukraine in their children, keep our flag, faith in the return of Ukraine, are waiting for, the Ukrainian president said:
"And I want you to feel our gratitude for that. And remembered: Without each of you, Ukraine will be incomplete, incomplete. And today we are celebrating the New Year together. According to our time. And at exactly 12:00 we will sing our anthem together - the anthem of Ukraine. With love for Ukraine. And this love is stronger than the occupation. This love for Ukraine is the driving force that the invaders are so afraid of. And Crimea, Donbas, Luhansk, Berdiansk, Melitopol, Mariupol - all of you are ours - know that your enemies are actually very afraid of you. Not of international organizations with political appeals, but of the Ukrainian spirit of Ukrainian people who have proved, are proving, and will prove that we are stronger. Stronger than captivity. Stronger than the enemy. Stronger than this war. Because we are such a people."
According to the president, Ukrainians inspire the whole world and they want to see such a country in the European family. This is confirmed by the decision to start negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union - "a decision that others have been making for decades" - which was once hard to believe.
But the Ukraine of 2023 is a purposeful, firm, consistent, resolute and stubborn country that is implementing extremely difficult and necessary reforms and changes during the war and is now welcome in the EU, the Ukrainian leader said.
Zelenskyy called Ukraine's progress on the path to European integration a historic victory. And according to him, there were many such diplomatic victories in 2023, although they were not easy.
"The Ukrainian peace formula, which has already been supported by 80 countries . Security guarantees for Ukraine, which have already been joined by three dozen countries. The "grain corridor" that we were told about: "You will never make it without Russia". We were blocked and blackmailed, but we found a way out. And we did, and our corridor is working, and today almost 13 million tons of Ukrainian grain have passed through it. This year, Ukrainians proved that we are stronger than lies, we are stronger than the IPO. We are stronger than despair, discord, and despondency. By maintaining international support for Ukraine. And multiplying it. Opening new directions, new prospects for Ukraine. Having held 120 meetings at the level of leaders this year alone, which brought us 156 defense support packages alone. Proving once again that Ukrainians are stronger than any intrigues, than any attempts to weaken global solidarity, to shake the coalition of our allies. Instead, it has grown. The coalition of "petriots," the air coalition, the tank coalition," Zelenskyy said.
He also thanked each country that joined the coalition to return Ukrainian children abducted by Russia . In addition, Zelensky thanked the partners for the transfer of air defense systems and other weapons.
"I thank all our partners for the fact that this year we already have Petriots, Irises, Haymars, Nassams, Goks, Abrams, Leopards and much more. And our pilots are already mastering F-16s, and we will definitely see them in our skies. So that our enemies will definitely see what our real fury is. And next year, the enemy will feel the fury of domestic production. Our weapons, our equipment, our artillery, our shells, our drones, our naval "greetings" to the enemy and at least a million Ukrainian FPVs. All of which we will generously provide. On land, in the air and, of course, at sea. On our Black Sea. And this year, the enemy has felt like never before: he has no place there. And our actions in the Black Sea have become a black page in the history of the racist fleet. This can be officially "confirmed" by their large landing ships, missile and patrol corvettes on the seabed. And our Snake River is now without their snakes and tricolor," he said.
Zelenskyy also said that during 2023, Ukraine overcame 6,000 alarms, "woke up to sirens almost every night, went down to the shelter, protecting our children from enemy missiles and drones."
" Our air defense forces worked every night and every day, heroically defending the Ukrainian sky . So that we could hear the call of battle 6 thousand times. And 6 thousand times to go up. To go up. To look up into the sky and prove once again that Ukrainians are stronger than terror. And no matter how many missiles the enemy fires, no matter how many shelling and attacks there are - vile, ruthless, massive - in an effort to break us, Ukrainians, to intimidate us, to knock Ukraine down, to drive us underground, we will still rise. Because the one who brings hell to our land will one day see it from his own window," the head of the Ukrainian state promised.
He added that 676 days ago, he addressed Ukrainians from his office - then there was a drawing behind him, a landscape with views of the Ukrainian land.
"Today, behind me are the chevrons of our soldiers. And each of them speaks of our land, our sky, our entire Ukraine, our people, what we have done and what we will do. About everyone who has left. And about everyone who is fighting. And about everyone who will live on this land. And will be proud to be Ukrainian. Because the whole world will know: Ukrainians are stronger! I wish everyone who has already found themselves in our common cause to always have those who will lend a shoulder and will not let you down. I wish everyone who is still hesitating to make a bold choice next year - to defend their own country, to work for it, to help, to find themselves in their own country, because this is the only place on earth where we can all say: we are at home," Zelenskyy addressed Ukrainians.
According to him, Ukrainians will become stronger, regardless of what awaits them in 2024. The President also expressed his wishes to his compatriots:
"And just like last December 31, today we say: "We don't know for sure what the new year will bring us". But this year we can add: "Whatever it brings, we will be stronger." And now I want to say the words that were considered banal before the war, but during the war they are priceless. I wish you, your families, loved ones, and all your relatives warmth and health. To those who have a heart, may they live long. To those who have been lost, may they remain in your hearts. To our loved ones - time. Time as much as possible. To your children - fulfillment of your wishes. To all people - human happiness. And to our Ukraine - victory and peace."
As a reminder, on December 30, Zelenskyy convened a meeting of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief's Staff to summarize the progress made in 2023 and determine the strategy for 2024.
According to the president, next year Ukraine will fight for its influence and justice for its people. He predicted that 2024 would be a year of many global decisions.
In particular, Ukraine has to produce more of its own weapons, and there is already a clear schedule of international work in January.
Zelenskyy also thanked Ukrainian soldiers and allies for the new operational work to strengthen Ukraine's air defense.