Ukraine-Russia war: one person killed as Russian bombards Ukraine on New Year’s Eve

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“Ruining lives of others is a disgusting habit of our neighbours”

At least one person was killed and 14 others hospitalised as multiple blasts rocked Kyiv and other areas of Ukraine on New Year’s Eve.

Some Ukrainians defied the danger, however, to return to the country to reunite with families for the New Year’s holiday. Ukrainian officials claimed Russia was deliberately targeting civilians, seeking to create a climate of fear to see out a grim 2022 and usher in a bloody new year.

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First Lady Olena Zelenska expressed outrage that such massive missile attacks could come just before New Year’s Eve celebrations on Saturday (31 December). “Ruining lives of others is a disgusting habit of our neighbours,” she said.

The deadly blast in the Ukrainian capital occurred among the multi-story residential buildings of the Solomianskyi district. One person wounded in the attacks is in a critical condition, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. He said two schools were damaged, including a kindergarten.

Various residential buildings and civilian infrastructure were damaged in Kyiv on Saturday afternoon as part of massive attacks spanning the country. An official in the president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, published photos and video of a partially collapsed six-story hotel in Kyiv.

Journalist among those injured

Mayor Klitschko said a Japanese journalist was among those injured in the capital. Russia launched 20 cruise missiles over Ukraine on Saturday afternoon, of which Ukrainian forces shot down 12, according to Ukrainian military chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

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KYIV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 31: Part of a hotel sits destroyed following a missile attack on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement that at least one person had been killed and another eight wounded in multiple afternoon explosions, with Russia continuing to target Ukraine's energy sector. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)KYIV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 31: Part of a hotel sits destroyed following a missile attack on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement that at least one person had been killed and another eight wounded in multiple afternoon explosions, with Russia continuing to target Ukraine's energy sector. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
KYIV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 31: Part of a hotel sits destroyed following a missile attack on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement that at least one person had been killed and another eight wounded in multiple afternoon explosions, with Russia continuing to target Ukraine's energy sector. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) | Getty Images

At least four civilians were wounded in the Khmelnytskyi province of western Ukraine, according to regional Governor Serhii Hamalii. Six people were wounded in the southern region of Mykolaiv. Mykolaiv Governor Vitalii Kim said that the Russians were targeting civilians more directly than just by attacking infrastructure as in the past.

“In many cities residential areas, hotels, just roads and garages are affected,” he wrote on Telegram.

Families reuniting despite the war

In Zaporizhzhia region, as a result of a missile attack, two houses were destroyed, and around eight damaged. Four people were also wounded, among them a pregnant woman and a 14-year-old girl, said regional Governor Oleksandr Starukh.

Even though Russia’s 10-month war continues with no end in sight, for some families the new year is nevertheless a chance to reunite, however briefly, after months apart. Soldier Vasyl Khomko, 42, met his daughter Yana and wife Galyna who have been living in Slovakia due to the war, but returned to Kyiv to spend New Year’s Eve together.

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As Russian attacks continue to target power supplies leaving millions without electricity, no big celebrations are expected and a curfew will be in place as the clock rings in the new year. Natalya Kontonenko had travelled from Finland. It was the first time she had seen her brother Serhii Kontonenko since the full-scale invasion began on February 24. Serhii and other relatives travelled from Mykolaiv to Kyiv to meet Natalya.

“We are not concerned about the electricity, because we are together and that I think is the most important,” he said.

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