Volodymyr Zelenskiy pledges to fight for freedom in 2023; Putin says Moscow will ‘never give in’ to west
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that his only wish for Ukrainians for 2023 was victory and he resolved to stay the course. “I want to wish all of us one thing – victory,” he said in a video message shortly before midnight as Ukrainians marked their first new year since the invasion. Zelenskiy reiterated that he would stay with his people while they were 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.”
Russia has claimed its strikes against Ukraine on New Year’s Eve that killed three people were targeting its neighbour’s drone production. A children’s hospital was among the buildings said to have been hit by Russian shelling. Ukrainian officials claim Russia is deliberately targeting civilians to sow fear.
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.
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.
Ukrainian air defence forces destroyed 45 Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including 32 during attacks on Kyiv as its citizens attempted to welcome in the new year, Ukrainian command said.
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.