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

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainians woke up to more sirens and more rocket attacks on Sunday in 2023 as the death toll from Russia’s massive New Year’s attack surged across the country. amounted to at least three.

Shortly after midnight, airstrikes rang out in the capital, followed by a barrage of rockets that interrupted small celebrations by Ukrainians at home. Ukrainian officials say Russia is now deliberately targeting civilians to instill fear and destroy morale.

Many woke up on New Year’s Day, when Kiev was mostly quiet, enjoying 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” year-end speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on New Year’s Eve did her good and made her proud to be Ukrainian, Shulzhenko said. She recently moved to Kiev after living in Bakhmut and Kharkiv, two cities that saw the heaviest fighting in the war.

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

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

Nighttime shelling in parts of the southern city of Kherson has killed one person and blown hundreds of windows off a children’s hospital, according to the president’s deputy chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko. Ukrainian forces retook the city in November after Russian troops retreated across the Dnieper, which cuts through the Kherson region.

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

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

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

“We already know the sound of missiles, 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 in the park with his family. “We’re holding on as best we can.”

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