A new round of explosions shook Kyiv in less than an hour until 2023, after Russia attacked Ukraine with missiles targeting the capital and other cities before New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram that the first explosions in the new year began about 30 minutes after midnight, and hit two districts, adding that there were no immediate reports of injuries.
Earlier in the evening, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainians would fight until victory.
He said in a speech, “We are fighting and we will continue to fight. For the main word:” victory “”, while his country witnessed the end of the old year, hours after the new wave of strikes.
“I want to tell you all: Ukrainians, you are incredible! Look what we have done and what we are doing!” Zelensky said in the emotional speech.
He continued, “We fight as one team – the whole country, all of our regions. I admire all of you. I want to thank every indomitable region of Ukraine.”
As Russia’s Far Eastern regions ring in the year 2023, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has delivered his midnight speech — usually set against the backdrop of the Kremlin — between the servicemen and women who fought in Ukraine.
He told them that “historical correctness” was on their side.
Around the same time, explosions rocked the Ukrainian capital as AFP journalists heard at least 11 powerful explosions in the early afternoon.
Klitschko said on social media that at least one person died as a result of the attacks on Saturday, while city authorities said 22 others were injured.
One of the explosions ripped open a corner of the four-star Alphavito Hotel in Kyiv, spilling rubble into the street, an AFP correspondent saw.
Nearby sidewalks were covered in glass from broken windows in the area, including from the National Palace of Arts in Kyiv.
Director Yaroslav Mutenko, 23, lives in a nearby apartment complex and said he was showering and getting ready for a New Year’s Eve party when he heard a bang.
He said there had been similar explosions in the area during an earlier attack in October, but nothing quite like Saturday’s blast.
As he watched rescue workers cordon off the street in front of the hotel, he told AFP he still planned to go to the party at a friend’s house.
“Our Russian enemies can destroy our calm, but they cannot destroy our soul,” he said.
“Why do I go to celebrate with friends? Because this year I understand that it is important for people to be around you.”
The attacks come as Putin’s invasion of Ukraine enters its 11th month, with Russian strikes systematically targeting energy infrastructure, leaving millions in the cold and dark in the middle of winter.
There were reports of strikes in the southern city of Mykolaiv, where a local official said seven people were injured.
The mayor of Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Senkievich, had said earlier that a fire had broken out in one of the city’s districts and several residential buildings had been damaged as a result of the strikes.
With Ukraine continuing to rely on military support and assistance from Europe and the United States to fend off Russian attacks, French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday pledged to help Ukrainians “without fail…until victory”.
Putin celebrates the new year
- At least four people were injured in western Ukraine in the Khmelnytskyi region, Governor Serhiy Jamali said, adding that part of the city of Khmelnytskyi remained without electricity.
Ukraine’s chief of the General Staff Valeriy Zalogny said Russia launched 20 cruise missiles on Saturday, with 12 shot down.
According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin delivered his New Year’s speech from the headquarters of Russia’s southern military district, where he was visiting earlier on Saturday and presented awards to soldiers.
Russian news agencies said that among the award recipients was the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovkin.
Footage broadcast on Russian state television showed Putin raising a glass of champagne with soldiers in uniform, some of whom had awards pinned to their chests.
In his traditional New Year’s Eve speech, broadcast on the channels just before midnight, Putin told Russians that “moral and historical correctness is on our side.”
Putin said that this year was marked by “truly pivotal and fateful events” that became “the frontier that lays the foundation for our common future, for our true independence.”
“Today we are fighting for that, and the protection of our people in our historical lands, in the new constituent entities of the Russian Federation,” he added, referring to four Ukrainian regions that Russia claimed to have annexed.
Earlier today, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a message to his soldiers that Russia’s victory in Ukraine is “inevitable”.
The Defense Ministry also announced the capture of the village of Dorozhnyanka in the southern Zaporizhzhia region — a rare gain Russia allegedly suffered after a string of defeats on the ground in Ukraine.
The ministry also said 82 Russian servicemen had been released as part of a prisoner exchange with Ukraine, while Kyiv said it had returned 140 people.
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