On New Year's Eve, Russia again carried out air strikes on Ukraine. Air alerts were raised across the country on Sunday evening after reconnaissance reported the launch of several fighter jets and dozens of combat drones in Russia. Explosions were heard over the capital Kiev and also over Kherson in the south and Kharkiv in the east - mostly from the use of anti-aircraft defenses. However, explosions of New Year's Eve rockets and firecrackers also caused unrest - these are actually banned in Ukraine during wartime.
Ukraine reports 90 drone attacks on New Year's Eve
According to Kiev, Russia fired on Ukraine with a record number of 90 combat drones on New Year's Eve. Nationwide, 87 of them could have been repelled, Ukrainian Air Force Chief Mykola Oleshchuk said on Telegram this morning. That is almost twice as many unmanned missiles as on New Year's Eve a year ago, when a total of 45 were shot down.
In the southern Black Sea region of Odessa, at least one person was killed and three others injured in an attack on a residential area, according to military governor Oleh Kiper. There is also said to have been damage to the port. A museum is said to have been destroyed in Lviv in western Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the Russian army also attacked the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions in the south and Kharkiv in the east with missiles.
Zelensky: Better tomorrow doesn't come by itself
In his New Year's Eve speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on his compatriots to shape the New Year according to their own ideas and not to lose sight of the future of their homeland. "We Ukrainians know better than anyone that a better tomorrow does not come by itself, because we defend each of our tomorrows with our own hands," he said on Sunday evening in his video address on Telegram, in which his wife Olena also appeared at his side . "That's why our new year will be exactly how we want it and how we will design it."
“Ukraine is alive, Ukraine is alive, Ukraine is fighting and fighting,” Zelensky said in a speech that was later distributed. The fact that Ukraine exists is not a New Year's miracle. "It is not a fairy tale, not magic, but the merit of each of you." At the same time, he thanked the soldiers for their commitment: "You are holding back the evil that has become even greater."
Ukraine will survive Russian attacks. "And no matter how many missiles the enemy fires, no matter how many shellings and attacks - vile, ruthless, massive - in an attempt to break us, the Ukrainians, to intimidate us, to crush Ukraine, to drive us underground, we will still rise up," said Zelensky. "For whoever brings hell into our land will one day see it from his own window."
Putin's congratulations to commanders in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin wished his commanders on Ukraine's various fronts a Happy New Year. "The president congratulated the commanders of the army groups on the eve of the New Year," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by the state agency Tass. Putin had previously invoked the resilience and unity of the Russians in a difficult situation in his New Year's speech. "We have shown more than once that we can solve the most difficult tasks and never back down, because there is no force that can divide us," said the Kremlin chief. He didn't mention Ukraine at all in his speech.
Kiev's air force chief celebrates defensive successes
Shortly before the arrival of new Russian missiles and drones, Ukrainian air force chief Mykola Oleshchuk praised the number of kills by his country's air defense in a balance sheet for 2023. In total, 85 percent of the combat drones and cruise missiles that the Russian military used against targets in Ukraine were shot down. Ballistic missile defense has also become more effective thanks to the Patriot systems delivered at the beginning of 2023. The information could not be independently verified.
“With increasing combat experience and receiving additional weapons from partners, air defense became stronger every day,” Oleshchuk wrote on Telegram on Sunday evening. "We are waiting for more systems that will be able to intercept ballistic missiles."
The commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valeryi Zalushny, is expecting a difficult year. “The year 2024 will not be easy,” he said in his New Year’s message shared on Telegram. "The fight for freedom and the future of our children continues. I believe that we will pass all trials with dignity and move closer to our victory step by step."
Meanwhile, the General Staff of Ukraine reported “another difficult situation” on the front sectors. However, no major fighting operations were noted in the daily front report on Sunday evening. In contrast, the Russian occupiers reported a “massaged attack” on the center of Donetsk in Donbass. At least four people were killed and 13 others were injured in the shelling on New Year's Eve, the region's crew chief, Denis Pushilin, wrote on Telegram on Monday.