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Bombardment, air raid sirens mark Ukraine's start to the New Year

Published 12/31/2022, 08:11 PM
Updated 01/01/2023, 06:57 AM
© Reuters. People gathered next to a Christmas tree to celebrate the New Year eve before a curfew, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in front of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine December 31, 2022.  REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

By Gleb Garanich and Valentyn Ogirenko

KYIV (Reuters) -Russia continued intense attacks on Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine early on New Year's Day, following a barrage of missiles fired on Saturday, with air raid sirens wailing for hours overnight.

Ukraine's Air Force command said that they had destroyed 45 Iranian-made Shahed drones -- 32 of them after midnight on Sunday and 13 late on Saturday.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin in a combative New Year address signalled that the war, now in its 11th month, will continue, a speech that contrasted with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's messages of gratitude and unity.

As sirens blared for over 4 hours in Kyiv, some people shouted from their balconies, "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!" Reuters witnesses reported.

Curfews ranging from 7 p.m. to midnight remained in place across the country, making celebrations for the start of 2023 impossible in public spaces.

Fragments from destroyed missiles caused minimal damage in the capital's centre, and preliminarily reports indicated there were no wounded or casualties, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on social media.

Ukraine's top command said in a report on Sunday that Russia had launched 31 missile and 12 air strikes across the country in the previous 24 hours.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said on Twitter: "Russia coldly and cowardly attacked Ukraine in the early hours of the new year. But Putin still does not seem to understand that Ukrainians are made of iron."

Andrii Nebytov, chief of Kyiv's police, posted a photo on his Telegram messaging app, allegedly of a piece of drone used in the attack on the capital with a hand-written sign on it in Russian saying "Happy New Year".

"These wreckage are not at the front, where fierce battles are taking place, they are here, on a sports grounds, where children play," Nebytov said.

Attacks on Saturday killed at least one person in Kyiv and injured a dozen. They followed many bombardments over the past months, which Russia has chiefly directed at Ukraine's energy and water infrastructure.

The newest attacks had damaged infrastructure in Sumy, in the northeast of the country, Khmelnytskyi in the west and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in southeast and south, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said.

"Let the day be quiet," Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region said early on Sunday, after reporting heavy shelling of several communities in the region overnight, that wounded one.

Separately, Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the southern Russian region of Belgorod bordering Ukraine, said that overnight shelling of the outskirts of Shebekino town had damaged houses but there were no casualties.

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

Russia's RIA state news agency reported, citing a local doctor, that six people were killed when a hospital in Donetsk was attacked on Saturday.

There was no immediate response from Kyiv, which almost never publicly claims responsibility for any attacks inside Russia or on Russian-controlled territories in Ukraine.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the Russian media reports.

© Reuters. People gathered next to a Christmas tree to celebrate the New Year eve before a curfew, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in front of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine December 31, 2022.  REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, calling it a "special operation" to "denazify" and demilitarise Ukraine, which he said was a threat to Russia. Kyiv and its Western allies say Putin's invasion was merely an imperialist land grab.

Russian forces have been engaged for months in fierce fighting in the east and south of Ukraine, trying to defend the lands Moscow proclaimed it annexed in September and which make up the broader Ukrainian industrial Donbas region.

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