Ukrainians celebrate New Year as Russian drones blast out of the sky

  • Russia kicks off new year with drones and missile strikes
  • Putin and Zelensky give contrasting speeches
  • Ukrainian frontline soldiers reflect on conflict

KIEV/DONETSK Oblast FRONT, UKRAINE, Jan 1 (Reuters) – In the first hours of 2023, Ukrainians cheered from their balconies as air defense systems blew Russian missiles and drones out of the sky. Targets throughout Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Air Force Command said it had destroyed 45 Iranian-made reconnaissance drones overnight. Of these, 32 were shot down at midnight on Sunday and 13 at midnight on Saturday. This was on top of 31 missile strikes and his 12 airstrikes across the country in the past 24 hours.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted in his grim New Year’s speech that he would not stop attacking Ukraine. Contrasting With a message of gratitude and solidarity from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

As sirens blared in Kyiv, some people shouted from their balconies: “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on social media that preliminary reports showed that debris from the late-night attack had caused minimal damage to the center of the capital, with no injuries or casualties. rice field. At least one person was killed and more than 20 injured in attacks that hit homes and hotels in the capital early on Saturday.

US Ambassador to Ukraine Brigitte Brink tweeted: “Early in the New Year, Russia attacked Ukraine with cold and cowardice. But Putin still doesn’t seem to understand that Ukrainians are made of steel.” Stated.

Soldiers celebrated the New Year on the front line in Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine. Soldier Pablo Prizhekhodsky, 27, played the song on a guitar he wrote on the front lines after 12 of his comrades were killed in one night.

“It is sad that people were forced to seek shelter and some were killed instead of meeting friends, celebrating and giving gifts,” he told Reuters. It’s an unforgiveable catastrophe, and that’s why the New Year is sad.”

In a nearby frontline trench, 49-year-old soldier Oleh Zahrodskiy said his son had signed up as a volunteer after being called up to fight in the reservists. His son is now in a hospital in the southern city of Dnipro, battling for his life with a brain injury while his father is on the front lines.

“It’s very hard right now,” he said, holding back tears.

‘Happy new year’

Kyiv police chief Andriy Nevitov posted on his Telegram messaging app a photo purported to be part of the drone used in the attack on the capital, with the words “Happy New Year” written in Russian. It had a handwritten signature. .

“This wreckage is not on the front lines where heavy fighting is taking place, but here, on the playground where children play,” Nevitov said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it targeted Ukrainian drone production, storage and launch sites with long-range missiles on New Year’s Eve.

Since Putin ordered the invasion in February, Russia has destroyed Ukrainian cities and killed thousands of civilians, calling Ukraine an artificial state whose pro-Western views claimed to be a threat to the safety of Since then, he claims, Moscow has annexed about a fifth of Ukraine.

Ukraine counterattacked with Western military support, driving Russian forces out of more than half of the occupied territory. The front lines have barely moved in recent weeks, with thousands of soldiers dying in fierce trench warfare.

Since October, Russia has launched massive missile and drone attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, plunging the city into darkness and cold as winter sets in. Kyiv says they are intended to harm civilians, a war crime, not for military purposes.

“The main thing is the fate of Russia,” Putin said in his New Year’s Eve speech before a group of people in military uniforms instead of the usual background of the Kremlin wall. and a sacred duty to posterity. Moral and historical justice is on our side.”

Zelensky delivered his speech in near darkness in front of a fluttering Ukrainian flag. He described his past year as a national awakening.

“I was told I had no choice but to surrender. I said I had no choice but to win,” he said.

“This year has touched our hearts. We cried all our tears. We cried all our prayers,” Zelensky said. “We fought and will continue to fight. For the keyword ‘victory’.”

Recent airstrikes have damaged infrastructure in Sumy in the northeast, Khmelnytsky in the west, and Zaporizhia and Kherson in the southeast and south, the chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said.

In Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia region, one person was killed and three others injured in shelling, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh told Telegram.

Grid operator Ukrenergo said the previous day had been “difficult” but the power situation was “under control” and no emergency shutdown had been implemented.

In Russia, Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the southern region of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, said overnight shelling of the outskirts of Shevekino town damaged homes but caused no casualties.

Russian media also reported multiple Ukrainian attacks on Moscow-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with local officials saying at least nine people were injured.

Russia’s RIA state news agency said six people were killed when a Donetsk hospital was attacked on Saturday, a local doctor said. said.

Reuters could not confirm the reports. There was no immediate response from Kyiv, which rarely commented on attacks within Russia or on Russian-held Ukrainian territory.

Reporting by Gleb Garanich, Valentin Ogilenko, Dan Pereschuk, Sergiy Karazy in Kyiv and Herbert Villaraga on the front line in Donetsk province. Written by Peter Graff, Lidia Kelly and Dan Peleschuk Editing by Kim Coghill and Frances Kerry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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