In a video address on New Year’s Eve, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned Russia’s missile barrage in Ukraine.
“Today, this Russian missile attack is not the end of the year, no matter how much the terrorists want it. It’s the outcome of Russia’s fate,” he said.
Reacting to the Russian air assault on Ukraine skies nationwide Saturday, Zelenskyy said, “The terrorist state will not be forgiven. And those who give orders for such strikes, and those who carry them out, will not receive a pardon. To put it mildly.”
On Saturday morning, Russian missiles pummeled Ukraine. One person was killed and at least 30 were wounded across the country. Eight massive explosions rocked the capital, Kyiv, and other areas.
“At Easter, they made such attacks, at Christmas, at New Year … They call themselves Christians, they are very proud of their Orthodoxy. But they are following the devil. They support him and are together with him,” Zelenskyy said.
He then addressed the Russian people: “Your leader wants to show that he has the troops behind him and that he is ahead. But he is just hiding. He hides behind the troops, behind missiles, behind the walls of his residences and palaces,” he said.
“He hides behind you and burns your country and your future. No one will ever forgive you for terror. No one in the world will forgive you for this. Ukraine will never forgive,” he continued.
Putin’s New Year’s address
Earlier Saturday, in his own a video message broadcast on Russian state TV, Putin said Russia was fighting in Ukraine to protect its “motherland” and to secure “true independence” for its people.
He accused the West of lying to Russia and of provoking Moscow to launch what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“The West lied about peace,” Putin said. “It was preparing for aggression … and now they are cynically using Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia. We have never allowed this and will never allow anybody to do this to us,” Russian state-run news agencies quoted Putin as saying in a speech broadcast at midnight in Russia’s Far East.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu vowed victory in Ukraine was “inevitable” as he praised the heroism of Russian soldiers fighting on the front lines and those who had died during the 10-month war.
However, a rift appears to be growing between the notorious Russian mercenary company, the Wagner Group, and the Russian military. As the front-line Donbas city of Bakhmut has become the site of some of the fiercest fighting in Ukraine, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin took aim at Russia’s military leadership and the stalling war effort, chiding officials about the lack of ammunition in their battles against Ukrainian forces.
“When you’re sitting in a warm office, it’s hard to hear about the problems on the front line, but when you’re dragging the dead bodies of your friends every day and seeing them for the last time — then supplies are very much needed,” he said in a video.
New Year’s Eve toll
Earlier Saturday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that during the missile strikes, one person was killed in the western Solomianskyi district of the city, and that a Japanese journalist was among the wounded in Kyiv. Another person was hospitalized in critical condition. Klitschko warned residents to remain in shelters.
In downtown Kyiv, missiles hit residential buildings, including a hotel, as well as the National Palace of Arts in the theater district and a concert hall.
Explosions were reported in other regions of Ukraine, including the eastern Donetsk oblast. Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko said that missiles hit targets in an industrial zone, but no casualties were reported.
Mykolaiv oblast Governor Vitaliy Kim said at least six people were wounded in the southern city of Mykolaiv. Three of them were hospitalized, with one listed in critical condition.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said four people were wounded by a missile strike in the western city of Khmelnytskyi. In the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, residential buildings were damaged, but information about casualties and destruction is being clarified, he added.
On Saturday afternoon, explosions were heard at the Dzhankoi airport in Russian-occupied Crimea, according to local Telegram channels. The Dzhankoi airport is a military air base operated by Russian occupying forces. Ukrainian armed forces also reported explosions at the airport.
Telegram channels monitoring launches of missiles reported that Dzhankoi was allegedly hit by a high-precision weapon.
Ukrainian authorities didn’t comment on the incident, and occupation authorities didn’t either.
On the eastern front, Ukrainian forces said they killed or wounded up to 10 Russian troops, destroying two vehicles and damaging three more near the occupied city of Donetsk, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s evening briefing on Telegram.
Intense fighting continues in the region. A dozen towns near Bakhmut have been damaged by recent shelling. Russian forces are also continuing to hit the southern city of Kherson with multiple rocket launchers, aircraft and kamikaze drones.
In the weeks following the liberation of Kherson in November, Russia has intensified its attacks on the front line in Donbas, particularly around Bakhmut, where it has made incremental gains supported by mass artillery bombardments.
Some material for this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.