Air raid sirens wail across Ukraine in first moments of 2023 – as Zelenskyy wishes for victory and Putin denounces the West

Blasts have been heard in Kyiv and air raid sirens wailed across the country just after midnight, forcing Ukrainians to abandon New Year celebrations and head to bomb shelters.

The latest apparent Russian salvo followed blasts on New Year’s Eve in multiple regions of Ukraine, with one person killed and 20 reported injured in the capital alone.

As the sirens blared in Kyiv in the early minutes of 2023, some people on their balconies shouted “Glory to Ukraine. Glory to heroes.”

City mayor Vitali Klitschko said that explosions had been heard and that air defence was working.

He shared a picture on Telegram apparently showing where a fragment of a rocket had hit a car in the Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv.

The air raid sirens sounded minutes after the end of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s New Year address in which he praised those who had fought for their country since the invasion on 24 February.

He told citizens: “I want to wish all of us one thing – victory.

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“And that’s the main thing. One wish for all Ukrainians.”

“Let this year be the year of return. The return of our people. Soldiers – to their families. Prisoners – to their homes. Immigrants – to their Ukraine. The return of our lands. And the temporarily occupied will become forever free.

“The return to normal life. To happy moments without curfew. To earthly joys without air alerts. The return of what has been stolen from us. The childhood of our children, the peaceful old age of our parents.

“May the New Year bring all it. We’re ready to fight for it. That’s why each of us is here. I’m here. We’re here. You’re here. Everyone’s here. We’re all Ukraine.

“Glory to Ukraine! Happy New Year!”

There were reports on social media of people being moved to tears by the speech.

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Putin takes aim at West in New Year speech

In an address of his own, Vladimir Putin said 2022 was a year of “difficult but necessary decisions” and “important steps towards Russia’s full sovereignty and a powerful consolidation of our society”.

The Russian president also denounced the West, echoing previous claims about it encouraging neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

Read more:
Putin ‘hides behind you and burns your country’, Zelenskyy tells Russians
‘Strong possibility’ Ukraine retakes all territory by end of 2023 – apart from Crimea

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He said: “For years, the Western elites hypocritically assured all of us of their peaceful intentions, including the resolution of the most difficult conflict in the Donbas.

“In fact, they encouraged neo-Nazis in every possible way, who continued to conduct military, openly terrorist actions against civilians of the people’s republics of Donbas.

“The West lied about peace, but was preparing for aggression, and today it admits it openly, no longer embarrassed. And they cynically use Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia.

“We have never allowed anyone to do this and we will not allow it now.”

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