The new explosions in Kiev rocked less than an hour before 2023, when Russia attacked Ukraine with missiles aimed at the capital and other cities ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The first explosions of the new year began around 30 minutes after midnight and hit two districts, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said on Telegram, adding that there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Earlier in the evening, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainians will fight until victory.
“We are fighting and we will continue to fight. In the name of the main word: ‘victory,'” he said in his address as his country saw off the old year hours after the new wave of strikes.
“I want to tell you all: Ukrainians, you are incredible! Look at what we have done and what we are doing!” Zelensky said in an emotional speech.
“We are fighting as one team – the whole country, all our regions. I admire all of you. I want to thank every invincible region of Ukraine,” he continued.
in 2023 as Russian regions in the Far East rang out, Russian leader Vladimir Putin delivered his midnight speech, usually held against the backdrop of the Kremlin, standing among servicemen and women who have fought in Ukraine.
He told them that “historical justice” was on their side.
Around the same time, explosions rocked the Ukrainian capital, where AFP reporters heard at least 11 loud explosions in the early afternoon.
Klitschko said on social media that at least one person was killed in the attacks on Saturday, and city authorities said 22 others were injured.
One explosion tore off one corner of the four-star Alfavito hotel in Kiev, sending rubble spilling onto the street, an AFP reporter saw.
Nearby sidewalks were covered in glass from blown-out windows in the area, including Kyiv’s National Palace of Arts.
Jaroslav Mutenko, a 23-year-old filmmaker who lives in a nearby apartment complex, said he was in the shower and about to go to a New Year’s party when he heard the boom.
He said there had been similar explosions in the area during a previous attack in October, but nothing like Saturday’s blast.
As rescuers cordoned off the street outside the hotel, he told AFP he still planned to go to a party at a friend’s house.
“Our Russian enemies can destroy our peace, but they cannot destroy our spirit,” he said.
“Why am I going to celebrate with my friends? Because this year I understand that it’s important to have people around.”
The attacks come in the 11th month of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and Russian airstrikes have systematically targeted energy infrastructure, leaving millions in the cold and dark in the middle of winter.
Strikes were also reported in the southern city of Mykolaiv, where a local official said seven people were injured.
Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandrs Sienkievych previously said that a fire broke out in one of the city’s districts and several residential buildings were damaged due to strikes.
As Ukraine continues to rely on military support and aid from Europe and the United States to fend off Russian attacks, French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday vowed to help Ukrainians “without fail … until victory.”
Putin celebrates the New Year
- At least four people were injured in western Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyi region, Governor Serhiy Gamalius said, adding that parts of the city of Khmelnytskyi remained without electricity.
Valery Zaluzhnyi, the chief of Ukraine’s general staff, said Russia launched 20 cruise missiles on Saturday, 12 of which were shot down.
According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin delivered his New Year’s address from the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District, where he visited and presented awards to soldiers earlier on Saturday.
Russia’s commander in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, was among the awardees, Russian news agencies reported.
Footage released by Russian state television shows Putin raising a glass of champagne to soldiers in military uniform, some with awards pinned to their chests.
In his traditional New Year’s Eve speech, broadcast just before midnight, Putin told Russians that “moral, historical justice is on our side.”
Putin said that this year was marked by “really fundamental, fateful events” that became “a wall that lays the foundation for our common future, our true independence.”
“Today we are fighting for it, protecting our people in our historical territories, in the new constituent parts of the Russian Federation,” he added, referring to the four regions of Ukraine that Russia claimed to have annexed.
Earlier in the day, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told his troops that a Russian victory in Ukraine was “inevitable.”
The Defense Ministry also announced the capture of the village of Dorozhnyanka in the southern Zaporozhye region, a rare victory as Russia has suffered a string of defeats in Ukraine.
The ministry also said 82 Russian soldiers had been freed in a prisoner swap with Ukraine, while Kyiv said it had returned 140 people.