- Russia fires more than 20 cruise missiles, killing one person
- President Zelenskiy says Russians are in league with the devil
- Attack dubbed ‘terror on New Year’s Eve’ in Kyiv
- Energy minister says attacks did not cause serious damage
By Dan Peleschuk and Olena Harmash
KYIV, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine on Saturday, killing at least one person in Kyiv, in attacks President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said showed Moscow was in league with the devil.
The second barrage of major Russian missile attacks in three days badly damaged a Kyiv hotel and a residential building. Energy Minister German Galushchenko on Facebook said the strikes had not caused serious damage to the national power system.
Russia has been attacking vital Ukraine infrastructure since October with barrages of missile and drones, causing sweeping power blackouts as the cold weather bites.
Zelenskiy speaking in a video address noted that Russia had also launched attacks at Easter and Christmas.
“They call themselves Christians … but they are for the devil. They are for him and with him,” he said.
At least a dozen people were injured in the attacks. A Japanese journalist was among the wounded and taken to a hospital, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
DTEK, the country’s largest private energy company, later said it had cancelled emergency power outages in Kyiv and the surrounding region.
Zelenskiy in comments addressed to Russian speakers said President Vladimir Putin was destroying Russia’s future.
“No one will forgive you for terror. No one in the world will forgive you for this. Ukraine will not forgive,” he said, reiterating calls for allies to supply more anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems.
Army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said air defences shot down 12 incoming cruise missiles, including six around the Kyiv region, five in the Zhytomyrskiy region and one in the Khmeltnytskiy region.
The cruise missiles had been launched from strategic bombers over the Caspian Sea hundreds of miles away and from land-based launchers, he said on Telegram.
“Russia’s mass missile attack is deliberately targeting residential areas, not even our energy infrastructure,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter after the attack.
“War criminal Putin ‘celebrates’ New Year by killing people,” Kuleba said, calling for Russia to be deprived of its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets described the attack as “Terror on New Year’s Eve.”
Other cities across Ukraine also came under fire. In the southern region of Mykolaiv, local governor Vitaliy Kim on television said that six people had been wounded.
Kim in a separate post on Telegram said Russia had targeted civilians with the strikes, something Moscow has previously denied.
“According to today’s tendencies, the occupiers are striking not just critical (infrastructure) … in many cities (they are targeting) simply residential areas, hotels, garages, roads.”
In the western city of Khmelnytskyi, two people were wounded in a drone attack, Ukrainian presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko said. He also reported a strike in the southern industrial city of Zaporizhzhia, which Tymoshenko said had damaged residential buildings.
Ukraine’s defence ministry responded on Telegram by saying: “With each new missile attack on civilian infrastructure, more and more Ukrainians are convinced of the need to fight until the complete collapse of Putin’s regime.”
Curfews ranging from 7 p.m. to midnight remained in place across Ukraine, making celebrations for the start of 2023 impossible in public spaces.
Several regional governors posted messages on social media warning residents not to break restrictions on New Year’s Eve.
(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk and David Ljunggren; Writing by Max Hunder and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Hugh Lawson, David Holmes and Mark Porter)