On New Year’s Eve, Russian missiles rained on Ukraine nationwide. At least one person was killed and at least 28 were wounded as eight massive explosions rocked the city of Kyiv.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that at least one person was killed in the western Solomianskyi district, and that among the 11 wounded in Kyiv is a Japanese journalist, and another person is in critical condition. Klitschko warned residents to remain in shelters.
In downtown Kyiv, missiles hit residential buildings, including a hotel, as well as the Ukraine Palace and concert hall.
Explosions also were reported in other regions of Ukraine, including the embattled eastern Donetsk oblast. Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko said that a missile strike hit targets in an industrial zone, but no casualties have been reported.
Mykolaiv oblast Governor Vitaliy Kim said at least six people were wounded in the southern city of Mykolaiv. Three of them were hospitalized, with one listed in critical condition.
Deputy head of the president’s office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said two people were wounded by a missile strike in the western city of Khmelnytskyi.
In the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, residential buildings were damaged, but information about casualties and destruction is being clarified, Tymoshenko noted.
Multiple reports on social media earlier said the air defense was working in Kyiv, Kherson, Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, and Zhytomyr oblasts.
Russia’s nationwide barrage comes three days after another massive attack was waged on Ukraine December 29.
Britain’s Defense Ministry had warned in an intelligence update that Russia is expected to continue an “intensive wave” of long-range strikes across Ukraine, “primarily targeting the power distribution network.”
The Saturday report, posted on Twitter, said, “Russia is almost certainly following this approach in an attempt to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses. There is a realistic possibility that Russia will break this pattern to strike again in the coming days in an effort to undermine the morale of the Ukrainian population over the new year holiday period.”
In a combative nine-minute New Year’s video address, the longest New Year’s address of his two-decade rule, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Russia would never give in to the West’s attempts to use Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia.
Putin lashes out
In the video message broadcast on Russian state TV, Putin said Russia was fighting in Ukraine to protect its “motherland” and to secure “true independence” for its people.
He accused the West of lying to Russia and of provoking Moscow to launch what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“For years, Western elites hypocritically assured us of their peaceful intentions,” he said in a speech recorded in front of Russian service personnel at the headquarters of Russia’s southern military district.
“In fact, in every possible way they were encouraging neo-Nazis who conducted open terrorism against civilians in the Donbas,” Putin said.
“The West lied about peace,” Putin said. “It was preparing for aggression … and now they are cynically using Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia. ”We have never allowed this and will never allow anybody to do this to us,” Russian state-run news agencies quoted Putin as saying in the clip, which was broadcast at midnight in Russia’s far east.
Earlier Saturday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu vowed victory in Ukraine was “inevitable” as he praised the heroism of Russian soldiers fighting on the frontlines and those who had died during the 10-month war.
Kyiv and the West reject Moscow’s claims, calling the Russian invasion of Ukraine a baseless war of aggression in a bid to seize territory and topple Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In a tweet Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said, “War criminal Putin celebrates New Year by killing people. Russia must be kicked out of its UN Security Council seat which it has always occupied illegally.”
On Saturday afternoon local time, explosions were heard at the Dzhankoi airport in Russian-occupied Crimea, according to local Telegram channels. The Dzhankoi airport is a military airbase currently operated by Russian occupying forces. Ukrainian armed forces also reported explosions at the airport.
Telegram channels monitoring launches of missiles reported that Dzhankoi was allegedly hit by a high-precision weapon.
Ukrainian authorities didn’t comment on the incident, and occupation authorities didn’t either.
On the eastern front, Ukrainian forces killed and wounded up to 10 Russian troops, destroyed two vehicles and damaged three more near the occupied city of Donetsk, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s evening briefing on Telegram.
Intense fighting continues in Donetsk oblast, as Russian forces continue to assault the city of Bakhmut and the area around Lyman, while strengthening their tactical positions near Avdiivka, as well as Kupiansk in Kharkiv Oblast.
A dozen towns near Bakhmut have been damaged by recent shelling, according to the report. Russian forces are also continuing to hit the southern city of Kherson with multiple rocket launchers, aircraft and kamikaze drones.
In the weeks following the liberation of Kherson in November, Russia has intensified its attacks on the frontline in Donbas, particularly around Bakhmut, where it has made small incremental gains supported by mass artillery bombardment.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said Friday that Ukraine continues to endure and repel waves of Russian air attacks and that Ukrainian air defenses have been made “stronger than ever.”
“In the new year,” he added, “Ukrainian air defense will become even stronger, even more effective.”
He said Ukrainian air defense “can become the most powerful in Europe,” a guarantee of security “not only for our country, but for the entire continent.”
The United States last week announced nearly $2 billion in additional military aid, including the Patriot Air Defense System, which offers protection against aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles.
Some material for this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.