Ukrainians applauded from their balconies as their air defenses shot down Russian missiles and drones from the sky in the early hours of 2023 as Moscow attacked civilian targets across Ukraine in the new year.

The Ukrainian Air Force command said it destroyed 45 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight — 32 of them after midnight on Sunday and 13 late on Saturday evening. This is not counting 31 missile attacks and 12 airstrikes across the country in the last 24 hours.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a dark and defiant New Year’s speech, said he was not going to give up in his attacks on Ukraine, contrasting with an encouraging message of gratitude and unity from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

When sirens wailed in Kyiv, some people shouted from their balconies: “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”

Fragments of night shelling caused minimal damage to the center of the capital, according to preliminary data, there were no wounded or injured, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on social networks. Earlier Saturday, attacks hit residential buildings and a hotel in the capital, killing at least one person and injuring more than 20.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink tweeted: “Russia coldly and cowardly attacked Ukraine in the early hours of the new year. But Putin still doesn’t seem to understand that Ukrainians are made of iron.”

On the front line in the eastern part of the Donetsk region of Ukraine, the military celebrated the New Year. Soldier Pavel Pryzhekhodsky, 27, played a guitar song he wrote at the front after 12 of his comrades were killed in one night.

“It is sad that instead of meeting friends, celebrating and giving each other gifts, people were forced to seek shelter, some were killed,” he told Reuters. “This is a huge tragedy. This is a huge tragedy that cannot be forgiven. That’s why New Year’s is sad.”

Soldier Oleg Zagrodsky, 49, in a nearby trench, said he volunteered after his son was called to fight as a reservist. His son was now in a hospital in the southern city of Dnipro, fighting for his life with a head injury while his father served at the front.

“It’s very hard right now,” he said, holding back tears.

‘Happy New Year’

Andriy Nebytov, Kyiv’s police chief, posted on his messaging app Telegram a photo showing a drone used in the attack on the capital, with “Happy New Year” handwritten in Russian. “

“This debris is not at the front, where there are fierce battles, it is here, on the sports ground where children play,” said Nebytov.

Russia has leveled Ukrainian cities and killed thousands of civilians since Putin ordered an invasion in February, saying Ukraine is an artificial state whose pro-Western worldview threatens Russia’s security. Since then, Moscow has said it has annexed about a fifth of Ukraine.

Ukraine fought back with Western military support, driving Russian troops out of more than half of the territory they had seized. In recent weeks, the front line has been largely static, with thousands of soldiers dying in fierce trench fighting as Moscow defended its hold on the occupied territory.

Since October, Russia has launched massive missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, plunging cities into darkness and cold as winter sets in. Moscow says the strikes are aimed at reducing Ukraine’s combat capability; Kyiv says they have no military purpose and are intended to harm the civilian population, which is a war crime.

“The main thing is the fate of Russia,” said the stern Putin in his New Year’s address, speaking to a group of people dressed in military uniforms, rather than in front of the usual backdrop of the Kremlin walls. “Defending the fatherland is our sacred duty to our ancestors and descendants. Moral, historical righteousness is on our side.”

Zelenskiy delivered his speech in near-darkness in front of a flying Ukrainian flag. He described the past year as a national awakening.

“We were told, ‘You have no choice but to surrender.’ We say: “We have no other choice but to win,” he said.

“This year has touched our hearts. We cried out all the tears. We have said all the prayers,” Zelensky said. “We have fought and will continue to fight. For the sake of the keyword: “victory”.

The latest airstrikes have damaged infrastructure in Sumy in the northeast of the country, Khmelnitsky in the west, and Zaporozhye and Kherson in the southeast and south, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

“Let the day be quiet,” said Valentin Reznichenko, the governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region, early Sunday morning, after reports of heavy shelling of several settlements in the region overnight, in which one person was injured.

Grid operator Ukrenergo said on Sunday that the past day had been “tough” for its workers, but that the electricity situation was “under control” and emergency shutdowns were not being carried out.

“Additional volumes of electricity for household consumers are provided thanks to the conscious behavior of Ukrainian business and restrictions on the work of the industry,” the statement says.

Separately, Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region in southern Russia, which borders Ukraine, said the nighttime shelling on the outskirts of the city of Shebekino damaged houses but caused no casualties.

Russian media also reported multiple attacks by Ukrainians in Moscow-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with local officials saying at least nine people were injured.

Russian state news agency RIA, citing a local doctor, said six people were killed in an attack on a hospital in Donetsk on Saturday. Officials in Donetsk also said one person had died as a result of Ukrainian shelling.

Reuters was unable to verify these reports. There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv, which almost never publicly takes responsibility for any terrorist attacks inside Russia or in Russian-controlled territories of Ukraine.

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Eddie Hudson is an Entertainment News Reporter and Fashion Stylist. Graduated with a degree in Television Production from Howard University. He is an award-winning entertainment news reporter at 24PalNews and credits his upbringing and passion for helping others as the foundation for his success.

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