Ukraine, hit by new Russian missiles, faces a grim new year

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainians woke up Sunday in 2023 to more sirens and more missile attacks as the death toll from the massive Russian New Year assault across the country climbed. amounted to at least three.

Shortly after midnight, air raid warnings sounded in the capital, followed by a barrage of missiles that interrupted small celebrations by Ukrainians at home. Ukrainian officials say Russia is now deliberately targeting civilians, seeking to create fear and destroy morale.

Many awoke on New Year’s Day, when Kyiv was largely quiet, savoring the bits of peace.

“Of course, it was difficult to fully celebrate because we understand that our soldiers cannot be with their families,” said Evheniya Shulzhenko, sitting with her husband on a park bench overlooking the city.

But a “really powerful” end-of-year speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on New Year’s Eve lifted her spirits and made her proud to be Ukrainian, Shulzhenko said. She recently moved to Kyiv after living in Bakhmut and Kharkiv, two cities that saw some of the heaviest fighting in the war.

Multiple explosions rocked the capital and other parts of Ukraine on Saturday and throughout the night, injuring dozens. An AP photographer at the scene of an explosion in Kyiv on Saturday saw the body of a woman as her husband and son stood nearby. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said two schools were damaged, including a kindergarten.

The strikes came 36 hours after widespread missile attacks Russia launched on Thursday to damage energy infrastructure. Saturday’s unusually rapid follow-up alarmed Ukrainian officials. Russia has attacked Ukraine’s electricity and water supplies almost every week since October, increasing the suffering of Ukrainians as its ground forces struggle to hold their ground and advance.

Nightly shelling in parts of the southern city of Kherson killed one person and blew out hundreds of windows at a children’s hospital, according to the President’s deputy chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko. Ukrainian forces recaptured the city in November after Russian forces withdrew across the Dnieper, which cuts through the Kherson region.

When shells hit the children’s hospital on Saturday evening, surgeons were operating on a 13-year-old boy who was seriously injured in a nearby village that evening, Kherson Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said. The shelling blew out the windows of the operating theater and the boy was transferred in serious condition to a hospital about 99 kilometers (62 miles) away in Mykolaiv.

Elsewhere, a 22-year-old woman died in a rocket attack in the eastern town of Khmelnytskyi, the town’s mayor said.

Instead of fireworks, Oleksander Dugyn said he, his friends and family in Kyiv watched the sparks caused by Ukrainian air defense forces against Russian attacks.

“We already know the sound of rockets, we know when they fly, we know the sound of drones. The sound is like the roar of a moped,” said Dugin, who was walking with his family in the park. “We’re holding on as best we can.”

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