Officials say Russian drones are attacking critical infrastructure in and around Kiev

  • Several waves of drones attack Kiv and the officers
  • Ukraine says it shot down 20 aerial objects over Kiev
  • Stern Putin’s New Year’s speech suggests no let-up
  • Zelensky says Ukraine is united
  • The New Year is tough in the Ukrainian front trenches

KYIV/DONETSK PROVINCE FRONT LINE, Ukraine, Jan 2 (Reuters) – Waves of Russian drones targeted infrastructure in and around Ukraine’s capital on Monday, damaging energy facilities and causing some power outages, officials said. Day of the year 2023.

Ukraine’s air force said its air defense systems had destroyed all 39 of Russia’s Iranian-made Shahed drones in what it said was a “massive attack” targeting Ukraine overnight.

President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Ukrainians for showing gratitude to the troops and to each other, and said Russia’s efforts would prove futile.

“Drones, missiles, everything else won’t help them,” he said of the Russians. “Because we stand united. They are only united by fear.”

But in a scathing New Year’s speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled he was not backing down on his attack on Ukraine.

Ukraine’s air defense systems worked through the night to shoot down incoming drones and warn communities of the approaching danger.

“It’s loud in the region and in the capital: drone attacks at night,” said Kyiv Governor Oleksiy Kuleba.

“The Russians launched several waves of Shahed drones targeting critical infrastructure. Air defenses are at work,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said the strikes had knocked out some power and heat.

“There are emergency power outages in the city,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.

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Earlier, one person was injured by debris from a destroyed drone that hit a road and damaged a building in the capital’s northeastern district, he said.

Reuters could not independently verify the information.

The regional military command in Ukraine’s east said air defense systems destroyed nine Iranian-made drones in the Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia regions early Monday.

New Year in the trenches

On Twitter, Bridget Brink, the US ambassador to Ukraine, said: “Russia attacked Ukraine in a cold and cowardly way on New Year’s morning. But Putin still doesn’t understand that Ukrainians are made of iron.”

Troops celebrate New Year on the front lines in Ukraine’s eastern province of Donetsk. One soldier, 27-year-old Pavlo Przyhodski, played a song he had written on the guitar after 12 of his comrades were killed in one night.

“Instead of meeting friends and giving each other gifts, people are forced to seek shelter and some have been killed,” he told Reuters.

“It’s a great tragedy that can never be forgiven. That’s why the New Year is sad.”

In a nearby trench, soldier Oleh Zahrodskiy, 49, said he volunteered after his son was called up as a reservist. Now, his son is in the hospital, fighting for his life with a brain injury, and his father is leading the way.

“It’s so hard right now,” she said, choking back tears.

‘Happy New Year’

Kyiv’s police chief, Andrii Nebytov, posted a photo on the Telegram app of what he described as a piece of the drone used in the attack on the capital, with a sign in Russian saying “Happy New Year”.

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“These ruins are not at the front, where fierce battles are taking place, this is here, in a playground, where children are playing,” Nebytov said.

Russia has leveled Ukrainian cities and killed thousands of civilians since Putin ordered his invasion in February, saying Ukraine is an artificial state whose pro-Western outlook threatens Russia’s security.

Russia, which denies targeting civilians, says it has annexed a fifth of Ukraine.

Ukraine fought back with Western military support, driving Russian forces from half of the territory they had captured. In recent weeks, the front lines have been largely static, with thousands of soldiers dying in intense combat.

Russia says its airstrikes are aimed at reducing Ukraine’s ability to fight; Kyiv says they had no military purpose and intended to injure civilians, a war crime.

“The most important thing is the fate of Russia,” Putin told a group dressed in military uniforms in a New Year’s Eve speech, instead of the event’s natural backdrop of the Kremlin walls.

“Defending the fatherland is our sacred duty to our forefathers and posterity. Moral and historical justice is on our side.”

Ukraine’s drone strike damaged a power station in Russia’s Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine, its governor said on Monday, adding that there were no casualties.

Russia last week said it shot down a Ukrainian drone near a remote bombing site deep inside its territory, killing three airmen.

Reuters could not independently verify this report.

Report by Reuters Bureau; Written by Peter Graf, Lydia Kelly, Don Beleschuk and Michael Perry; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birzel

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