KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — Multiple explosions rocked Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine on Saturday, killing at least one person and injuring 14 others, a sign that Russian attacks are intensifying ahead of the new year. has occurred.
Despite this, some Ukrainians braved the danger and returned to the country to join their families for the Christmas holidays.
Ukrainian officials say Russia is deliberately targeting civilians, seeking to create a climate of fear to end the year on a grim note and usher in a bloody 2023.
First lady Olena Zelenska expressed anger at such a massive missile attack just before New Year’s celebrations.
He said, ‘It is a disgusting habit of our neighbors to ruin the lives of others.’
The explosions also came at an unusually fast pace, one that has officials worried just 36 hours after Russia launched a series of missiles to damage energy infrastructure facilities on Thursday.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba noted the large number of civilian deaths from this latest offensive: “This time, Russia’s massive missile strikes are deliberately targeting residential areas, even energy infrastructure. No.”
The deadly explosion in the capital of Ukraine occurred between multi-storey residential buildings in Solomiansky district. The city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said one person injured in the attacks was in serious condition. He said two schools, including a kindergarten, were damaged.
A number of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure were damaged in Kyiv on Saturday afternoon, part of the widespread attacks across the country. Kirylo Tymoshenko, a senior presidential official, posted pictures and videos of a partially collapsed six-story hotel in Kyiv. Klitschko said a Japanese journalist was among those injured in the capital.
Russia fired 20 cruise missiles at Ukraine on Saturday afternoon, 12 of which were shot down by the Ukrainian military, according to General Valery Zaluzny, chief of the Ukrainian armed forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released a short video speech after Russia launched cruise missiles over Ukraine on New Year’s Eve, in which he claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “behind the army, behind the missiles, behind their residences”. And are hiding behind the walls of palaces. Turning to the Russians, he told them: “No one in the world will forgive you for this. Ukraine will not forgive.”
At least four civilians were wounded in western Ukraine’s Khmelnitsky province, according to regional governor Serhiy Hamali. Six people were injured in the southern region of Mykolaiv.
The governor of Mykolaiv, Vitaly Kim, said that the Russians were attacking civilians directly, rather than just attacking infrastructure as they used to do in the past.
“In many cities residential areas, hotels or just roads and garages have been affected,” he wrote on Telegram.
In the Zaporizhia region, as a result of a missile strike, two houses were destroyed and about eight were damaged. Regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said four people were also injured, including a pregnant woman and a 14-year-old girl.
Even though the Ukraine war started by Russia 10 months ago is still ongoing, for some families the new year is a chance to briefly reunite after months of separation.
At Kyiv’s central train station on Saturday morning, Mykyta, still in his uniform, clutched a bouquet of pink roses as he waited on platform 9 for his wife, Valeria, to arrive from Poland. He had not seen her for six months.
“It was really difficult, you know, waiting so long,” he told The Associated Press after hugging and kissing Valeria.
Nearby, another soldier, Vasyl Khromko, 42, is happily reunited with his daughter Yana and his wife Galina, who have been living in Slovakia because of the war but have come to spend New Year’s Eve together. Returned to Kyiv.
In February, fathers, husbands and children were left behind, while their wives, mothers and daughters with young children boarded trains seeking safety outside the country. Scenes of tragic alienation filled television screens and newspaper front pages around the world.
But on the final day of a year marked by brutal war, many returned to the capital to spend New Year’s Eve with their loved ones, despite Russian attacks.
Millions of people have been left without power, with no major celebrations expected and a curfew to clock in for the new year, as Moscow’s offensive to affect power supplies continues. But for most Ukrainians, being with their families is a luxury.
At first Valeria tried to seek refuge from the conflict in Spain, but then she moved to Poland. When asked what his plans are for New Year’s Eve, he simply replied: “Just to be together.”
The couple declined to give their last names for security reasons, as Mykita is fighting on the front lines in both southern and eastern Ukraine.
Another young couple reunited on Platform 8. Arsenia Kolomiets, a 23-year-old university student living in Italy. Despite longing to see her lover, Daniil Lyashchenko, in Kyiv, Kolomiets feared Russian missile and drone attacks.
“He would tell me: ‘Please come! Please come! Please come!'” she recalled. “I decided that being scared is one part, but the most important part is being with loved ones over the holidays. So I overcame my fear and here I am.”
Although their home is without electricity, Lyashchenko said they look forward to welcoming 2023 with their family and their cat.