A number of bombs exploded in the Ukrainian capital Kiev just after midnight on New Year’s Day.
Sunday’s attacks on Kyiv followed what officials there called “terrorism on New Year’s Day” after at least 20 cruise missiles were fired at targets across Ukraine.
The new attack set off air raid sirens across the country, and some in Kiev chanted “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes” from their balconies.
The first explosions of the new year hit two districts about 30 minutes after midnight, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said in a Telegram. He said there was no immediate information on casualties.
The city’s military administration said 23 “air objects” launched by Russia had been destroyed and air defense systems were operational.
Earlier in the evening, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainians would fight until victory in the war, now in its eleventh month.
“We are fighting and will continue to fight. For the key word: ‘Victory’,” he said in an emotional speech. “I want to say to all of you: Ukrainians, you are incredible! Look at what we’ve done and what we’re doing!”
“We are fighting as a team – the whole country, all our parts. I appreciate all of you. I want to thank every part of Ukraine for being invincible,” he added.
The previous round of attacks on Kyiv damaged Hotel Alfavito and a residential building, killing at least one person and injuring at least a dozen others. Klitschko said a Japanese journalist was among the injured and was taken to hospital.
Filmmaker Yaroslav Mudenko, 23, who lives in an apartment near Hotel Alfavido, said he was preparing to leave for a New Year’s Eve party when he heard a boom. He said there had been similar explosions in the area during an earlier attack in October, but nothing as loud as Saturday’s.
He told the AFP news agency that he still planned to go to a party at a friend’s house as rescuers cordoned off the street in front of the hotel.
“Our enemies, the Russians, can destroy our peace, but they cannot destroy our spirit,” he said. “Why am I going to celebrate with friends? Because this year I understand that it is important to have people around.
Attacks were also carried out in the southern city of Mykolaiv, where a local official said seven people were wounded.
Governor Vitaly Kim said in a Telegram that Moscow had previously denied that Russia had targeted civilians. “According to today’s trends, the aggressors are attacking more than just criticism. [infrastructure] … in many cities [they are targeting] Just residential areas, hotels, garages, roads,” he said.
The attacks came at an unusually rapid pace, officials warned, 36 hours after Russia fired a barrage of missiles Thursday to damage energy infrastructure.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba highlighted the heavy civilian toll of this latest attack – “this time, Russia’s massive missile attack is deliberately targeting residential areas, not even energy infrastructure”. “War criminal Putin celebrates the New Year by killing people,” he added, adding that Russia should be stripped of its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets described the attack as “terrorism on New Year’s Day”.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry responded with a denial.
“With each new missile attack on civilian infrastructure, more and more Ukrainians are convinced of the need to fight until the total collapse of Putin’s regime,” it said in the Telegram.
A curfew was in effect across Ukraine from 7pm to midnight local time, making public celebrations for the start of 2023 impossible.
Several regional governors posted messages on social media warning against breaking restrictions on New Year’s Day.