Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine on Saturday, killing at least one person in the capital Kyiv and injuring more than a dozen in what one official described as “terror on New Year’s Eve”.
Moscow’s second major missile attack in three days badly damaged a hotel south of Kyiv’s centre and a residential building in another district. A Japanese journalist was among the wounded and taken to hospital, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
Russia has been attacking vital infrastructure in Ukraine since October with barrages of missile and drones, causing sweeping power blackouts and other outages for millions of people as the cold weather bites.
“This time, Russia’s mass missile attack is deliberately targeting residential areas, not even our energy infrastructure,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter after the attack.
“War criminal Putin ‘celebrates’ New Year by killing people,” Kuleba said, calling for Russia to be deprived of its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Reuters correspondents heard a series of loud explosions in Kyiv that came in two separate waves.
Army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said air defences shot down 12 incoming cruise missiles, including six around Kyiv region, five in Zhytomyrskiy region and one in Khmeltnytskiy region.
The cruise missiles had been launched from Russian strategic bombers over the Caspian Sea hundreds of miles away and from land-based launchers, he said on Telegram.
Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets described the attack as “Terror on New Year’s Eve”.
“The terrorist country is congratulating the Ukrainian people with missiles. But we are indestructible and unconquerable. There is no fear, but the fury is rising. We will definitely win,” Lubinets said.
Kyiv’s mayor said 30% of consumers were without electricity in the capital due to the introduction of emergency blackouts, but residents had central heating and running water.
Other cities across Ukraine also came under fire. In the southern region of Mykolaiv, local governor Vitaliy Kim said on television that six people had been wounded.
In a separate post on Telegram, Kim said Russia had targeted civilians with the strikes, something Moscow has previously denied.
“According to today’s tendencies, the occupiers are striking not just critical (infrastructure) … in many cities (they are targeting) simply residential areas, hotels, garages, roads.”
In the western city of Khmelnytskyi, two people were wounded in a drone attack, Ukrainian presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko said.
The official also reported a strike in the southern industrial city of Zaporizhzhia, which Tymoshenko said had damaged residential buildings.
Ukraine’s defence ministry responded on Telegram by saying: “With each new missile attack on civilian infrastructure, more and more Ukrainians are convinced of the need to fight until the complete collapse of Putin’s regime.”
Curfews ranging from 7 p.m. to midnight remained in place across Ukraine, making celebrations for the start of 2023 impossible in public spaces.
Several regional governors posted messages on social media warning residents not to break restrictions on New Year’s Eve, with some even warning that the police presence on city streets would be increased at night.