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Putin welcomed the New Year with attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv

Putin welcomed the New Year with attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv

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KYIV, Ukraine — As Moscow launched a new barrage of strikes against Ukraine on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an unusually aggressive pre-recorded address that was broadcast as Russians in the Far East began their New Year’s celebrations.

This New Year’s message was markedly different from previous years, reflecting the new path the country has taken since Russia invaded Ukraine this February.

In the address, which was broadcast at midnight on Russian state television in line with the country’s 11 different time zones, Putin said Russia was fighting in Ukraine to defend its “motherland” and called 2022 a “difficult year , necessary decisions” and “fateful events” laid the foundations for the future and independence of Russia.

Set against a backdrop of Russian military personnel instead of the typical wintry view of the Kremlin, Putin’s speech marked a significant shift in tone, more combative and nationalistic rather than celebratory and celebratory.

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In the nine-minute message – the longest New Year’s address in Putin’s two decades in office – he thanked the Russian military for its “fortitude and courage” before launching into a tirade against the West, which he has repeatedly accused of provoking the offensive.

“The West lied about peace but is preparing for aggression” and “cynically uses Ukraine and its people to weaken and divide Russia,” Putin said. “We have never and will never allow anyone to do that to us.

As the first footage of the speech was broadcast, dozens of rockets rained down on Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine. Several explosions were heard in Kyiv, and a Washington Post reporter saw from her apartment window what appeared to be a Ukrainian air defense missile intercepting a Russian missile. It was unclear whether the sound of the explosions was from air defense systems or missiles hitting targets.

“The terrorist state shows its cynicism again. Even on New Year’s Eve, it continues to launch massive rocket attacks,” Oleksiy Kuleba, the regional governor of Kyiv, wrote on Telegram. Kuleba said no one was injured in the strike, but a number of “civilian objects were damaged by debris,” adding that “Russia is firing missiles because it knows that for us it is the New Year and for them it is the last.”

Saturday’s attack followed a massive airstrike two days earlier, one of the largest since the invasion began, in what has become an intensifying battle between Russian missiles and Ukrainian air defenses as Kyiv tries to thwart Moscow’s attempts to destroy critical Ukrainian infrastructure.

The attacks show that Putin has no intention of ending his campaign to leave Ukrainians without light, heat and water this winter, while Russia’s advance on the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine has stalled.

Russian services are crumbling as Moscow bombs Ukrainian infrastructure

Despite frantic efforts by Ukrainian engineers to repair critical power infrastructure after each attack, every region of the country is hit by regular blackouts as officials curtail electricity to avoid overloading the power grid.

On Saturday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko confirmed that several explosions had rocked the capital, causing extensive damage and one death. Klitschko wrote on Telegram that at least 20 people were injured, including a Japanese journalist, and 16 were hospitalized. Post reporters in Kyiv noticed that more residential areas appeared to be affected than in previous strikes.

Valery Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s military, said on Telegram on Saturday that Ukrainian air defenses had destroyed 12 of 20 cruise missiles fired by Russia from the Caspian Sea region and “ground-based” locations. Six were destroyed in Kyiv, five in Zhytomyr and one in Khmelnitsky.

The Biden administration will send the Patriot missile system to Ukraine

In Thursday’s attack, Ukrainian officials said they intercepted 54 of 69 Russian missiles fired and all 16 were destroyed in Kyiv. Kyiv’s military administration also posted on its official Telegram channel that seven “missiles and enemy drones” had been destroyed, but did not specify how many missiles were fired at the capital. The Post was unable to independently verify the data from Ukrainian authorities.

To bolster Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, the United States delivered two of eight promised National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, while Germany provided an infrared imaging system. Washington has also promised to deliver the Patriot missile system, one of the most advanced, although it is unclear when it could be deployed to Ukraine.

Earlier on Saturday, several Russian officials made their own upbeat New Year statements, despite the heavy battlefield losses that have shaped the final stages of the war. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that in the final minutes of the year, Russian soldiers continued to “heroically defend their fatherland”.

In his own New Year’s address on Saturday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the country’s air defense forces and soldiers fighting on the front lines and said Saturday’s attack was not the “end of the year” but the “summation of fate of Russia”. myself.”

“This war you are waging, Russia, it is not with NATO, as your propagandists lie. It is not for historical reasons,” said Zelensky. “Your leader wants to show that he has the army behind him and that he is at the front. But he’s just hiding. He hides behind the military, behind the missiles, behind the walls of his residences and palaces.

“He is hiding behind you and burning your country and your future. No one will ever forgive you for this terror,” he continued. Ukraine will never forgive.

Ebel reported from London. Isabel Khurshudyan in Kyiv contributed to this report.


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