Kyiv, Jan. 2 (AP) — Ukrainians face a grim start to 2023, as Sunday brought more Russian missile and drone strikes after a violent New Year’s Eve attack left at least 100,000 people across the country. Three civilians were killed, authorities reported.
Shortly after midnight, air raid sirens sounded in the capital, followed by a barrage of missiles that interrupted small celebrations at residents’ homes due to a wartime curfew. Ukrainian officials say Moscow deliberately targeted civilians and critical infrastructure to create a climate of fear and destroy morale during the long winter.
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In a video address on Sunday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky praised his citizens for their “sense of solidarity, authenticity and life itself”. The Russians, he said, “will not take a year away from Ukraine. They will not take away our independence. We will not give them anything.”
Ukrainian air and ground forces shot down 45 explosive Iranian-made drones launched by Russia Saturday night and before dawn Sunday, Zelensky said.
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Another air strike in the southern Zaporozhye region at noon on Sunday killed one person, according to Alexander Starukh, head of the regional military administration. But Kyiv was largely quiet, and on New Year’s Day people there savored a slice of peace.
“Of course it is difficult to fully celebrate because we know our soldiers cannot be with their families,” Evheniya Shulzhenko said as she sat with her husband on a park bench overlooking the city.
But Zelensky’s “very powerful” speech on New Year’s Eve lifted her spirits and made her proud to be Ukrainian, Shulzhenko said. She recently moved to Kyiv after living in Bakhmut and Kharkiv, two cities that have seen the worst of the war.
Multiple explosions rocked the capital and other parts of Ukraine on Saturday and throughout the night, injuring dozens. An Associated Press photographer at the scene of the explosion in Kyiv saw the body of a woman with her husband and son standing nearby.
Ukraine’s largest university, Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, reported extensive damage to its buildings and campus. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said two schools were damaged, including a kindergarten.
The attack came 36 hours after Russia launched a widespread missile strike on Thursday to damage energy infrastructure. Ukrainian officials were startled by the unusually swift follow-up on Saturday. Since October, Russia has carried out almost weekly airstrikes on Ukrainian power and water facilities, exacerbating the suffering of Ukrainians while its ground forces have struggled to hold their ground and advance.
Nighttime shelling in parts of the southern city of Kherson killed one person and blew out hundreds of windows at a children’s hospital, according to Vice President’s Chief of Staff Kirillo Tymoshenko. Ukrainian forces recaptured the city in November after Russian troops withdrew across the Dnieper River, which bisects the Kherson region.
Kherson Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said surgeons were operating on a badly injured 13-year-old boy in a nearby village Saturday night when shells hit the children’s hospital. The boy was in serious condition and was transferred to a hospital in Nikolayev, 99 kilometers (62 miles) away.
Elsewhere, a 22-year-old woman died on Saturday in the eastern town of Khmelnytskyi from injuries sustained in Saturday’s rocket attack, the city’s mayor said.
Oleksander Dugyn said he and his friends and family in Kyiv watched not New Year’s fireworks but sparks as Ukrainian air defenses countered a Russian attack.
“We already know the sound of rockets, we know the moment they fly, we know the sound of drones. The sound is like the roar of a moped,” said Duggin, who was walking in the park. “We’re doing the best we can.”
While Russian bombing left many Ukrainians without heat and electricity due to damage or controlled blackouts to protect remaining power supplies, Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator said on Sunday it would not limit power usage for a day.
“The power industry is doing everything possible to ensure that the New Year holidays will be bright and unrestricted,” the Ukrenergo utility said.
It said businesses and industry had cut spending to provide extra power to households.
In his nighttime address, Zelensky thanked utility workers for helping keep the lights on during the latest attack. “On this New Year’s Eve, it is very important how all Ukrainians recover their inner energy,” he said.
In a separate tweet on Sunday, the Ukrainian leader also reminded the EU of his country’s desire to join. He thanked the Czech Republic and congratulated Sweden, which has just changed the EU presidency, for helping to ensure progress in Ukraine’s bid. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)