One person was killed and 20 others wounded in Kyiv as a wave of Russian missiles rocked the capital city Saturday — while Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky traded barbs in New Year’s messages to their respective nations.
In a bellicose nine-minute rant, broadcast on Russian state television just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, Putin insisted that his troops in Ukraine are “defending our people and our historical territory.”
“The West lied about peace,” a grim-faced Putin said, surrounded by solemn soldiers and sailors in uniform. “It was preparing for aggression … and now they are cynically using Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia.”
“We will triumph, for our families and for Russia,” he vowed — before toasting the service members with champagne.
But Zelensky responded with a message to Russians in their own language — telling them that Putin’s troops are “following the devil.”
“Your propagandists lie,” the Ukrainian president said in a speech posted on Instagram. “All this war that you are waging … is for one person to remain in power for the rest of his life.”
“Your leader wants to show he has the troops behind him,” Zelensky said. “But he’s hiding … He hides behind you, burns your country, your future. No one will forgive for terror. No one in the world will forgive you.”
Air raid alerts sounded across a wide swath of Ukraine Saturday morning as the Russian bombardment continued 10 months into its invasion.
At least 20 civilians, including a Japanese journalist, were injured and one killed in the missile attack on Kyiv, where several schools suffered heavy damage, CNN reported.
Video posted to social media showed that a corner of the Alfavito Hotel in central Kyiv had collapsed in the barrage, while other photos showed firefighters atop smoking rubble in Mikolaiv and a drone attack reportedly injured two in the western city of Khmelnytskyi.
About a third of the capital was forced to mark the new year in the dark as “emergency outages” left thousands without electricity, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.
“Russia wants to cause darkness and inflict damage on the country with continued attacks,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said in a Telegram post.
Moscow intends to “intimidate, leave us in the dark for the new year, cause as much damage to civilian infrastructure as possible,” Shmyhal said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov claimed that Russia will close its borders to men of conscription age in January ahead of another round of forced military mobilizations.
“At the beginning of January, the Russian authorities will close the borders for men, then they will declare martial law,” Reznikov said in a video message late Friday.
“I know for a fact that you have about one week left before you still have any choice,” Reznikov warned Russians.
The Kremlin last month called off Putin’s divisive draft order that conscripted 300,000 mostly untrained men into his armed forces — sparking massive protests and causing hundreds of thousands to flee the country.