President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that his only wish for all Ukrainians for 2023 was victory and resolved to stay the course. “I want to wish all of us one thing – victory. And that’s the main thing. One wish for all Ukrainians,” said Zelenskiy in a video message just before midnight as Ukrainians marked their first new year since the invasion. He reiterated that he will stay with his people while they are fighting for freedom. “We were told to surrender. We chose a counterattack,” he said. “We are ready to fight for it [freedom]. That’s why each of us is here. I’m here. We are here. You are here. Everyone is here. We are all Ukraine.”
Russian leaders issued a series of defiant messages ahead of new year. President Vladimir Putin said Russia would “never give in” to the west, and was fighting for its “motherland, truth and justice … so that Russia’s security can be guaranteed”. It was his longest new year’s address in his two decades in charge.
The defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said victory for Russia over Ukraine was “inevitable”.
Russia launched more than 20 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets on Saturday, killing at least one person in Kyiv, the capital, and injuring another 20 people in what one Ukrainian official described as “terror on New Year’s Eve”. Fourteen of the injured were taken to hospital and at least one was in critical condition after Moscow’s second major missile attack in three days.
A hotel was one of the buildings hit, as well as a residential area in the centre and west of the city. The affected areas of Kyiv were Solomyansk, Solomyan, Pechersk and Holosiivsk.
Among those injured was a Japanese journalist, reporting on the conflict, who was staying in the hotel. A series of 10 explosions were heard in the first wave.
The attacks mimic those on Christmas Eve, as Russia looks to damage Ukrainian morale ahead of holidays.
Six people were injured in the southern region of Mykolaiv, with another two hurt in the western city, Khmelnytskyi.
Homes were damaged in Zaporizhzhia city in the country’s south.
Water and electricity supplies are still working in Kyiv, although some were turned off preventively amid an air raid alert.
Ukraine’s first lady condemned the attacks. Olena Zelenska, Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s wife, said: “Ruining lives of others is a disgusting habit of our neighbours.”
Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said Russia may be preparing a new mobilisation order and could close its border to men eligible to fight within a week.
Russia and Ukraine have exchanged more than 200 captured soldiers, the latest prisoner swap between the two sides.
The US is concerned by China’s alignment with Russia as Moscow continues its invasion of Ukraine, the US said after the presidents of Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, held a video meeting on Friday.
Russian authorities have announced that soldiers and state employees deployed in Ukraine will be exempt from income tax, in the latest effort to encourage support for its military operation there.