Despite all the Russian rockets, the Ukrainians welcomed the new year with light. President Selenskyj prompted the New Year’s message with irony. Russia sends “kamikaze drones” on New Year’s Eve. The developments of the night at a glance.
After the turn of the year, the Russian army continued to attack with “kamikaze drones”, and air raid alarms were raised in southern and eastern Ukraine and in Kyiv. There were several explosions in the capital. No major damage or casualties were initially known.
Official Ukrainian sources stated that Russian forces fired more than 20 cruise missiles from the air. The Ukrainian air defenses are said to have shot down 12 of them, reports the “Institute for the study of war”. In addition, Russia deployed ten Shahed-136 drones and one Orlan-10 surveillance drone, all of which Ukrainian forces are said to have shot down.
“The Russian armed forces are likely to be depleting their stockpiles of artillery ammunition and will therefore find it difficult to maintain their current pace of operations in certain sections of the front line in Ukraine,” report military experts from the Institute for the Study of War.
According to information from the head of the Ukrainian main military intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, the artillery situation is expected to worsen further by March 2023. Budanov explained that the Russian armed forces have even “removed” artillery ammunition from Belarusian military storage facilities to support their operations in Ukraine. The British Ministry of Defense also confirms the Russian lack of weapons and believes that the Russian army no longer has the necessary stocks of artillery ammunition to continue to guarantee the high level of weaponry.
In Russian, Zelenskyy declared in his speech that the neighboring country is not at war with the whole of NATO, “as your propagandists lie.” The war also does not serve any historically significant goals remains in power at the end of life,” he said, referring to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. “And what’s left of all of you, citizens of Russia, is none of his business.”
Putin wants to show that he leads the military and has its backing. “But he’s just hiding,” Zelenskyy said. “He hides behind the military, behind rockets, behind the walls of his residences and palaces, he hides behind you and burns your country and your future.” No one will ever forgive Russia for terror, Zelensky said. “Nobody in the world will forgive you for that. Ukraine will never forgive you.”
In another video message, Zelenskyy later said: “Ukraine has not lost its sons and daughters – they were taken away by murderers.” The country had been invaded by invaders. “The world has not lost peace – Russia has destroyed it.”
Russia’s army invaded Ukraine on February 24 – under the pretext of wanting to “denazify and demilitarize” the neighboring country. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in the war, which is not allowed to be called that in Russia and, even after more than ten months, is officially known as a “special military operation”. There are no precise figures on this from an independent source.
Just before the turn of the year, “kamikaze drones” from Russia, designed to crash at targets at high speed, were reported flying into Ukraine. Air alerts were raised for the cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv in the south and Dnipro in the center of the country, Unian agency reported. The alarm was later extended to eastern Ukraine.
Mykolayiv military administrator Vitali Kim reported two formations of drones sighted in his area. The air defense opened fire on the Iranian-made Shahed drones. Even after the turn of the year there was an air raid alarm again.
In a short New Year’s Eve message, President Zelenskyj wished his compatriots a Happy New Year, as he called it. “Wish a miracle today? The Ukrainians created it a long time ago,” Zelenskyy said. He also published a photo of himself and his wife Olena in front of a modestly decorated Christmas tree on Instagram. There were other political undertones in his New Year’s message.
“Want real friends? We’ve already found out for sure who they are,” Zelenskyy said, apparently referring to Ukraine’s supporters in the war against Russia. With a touch of irony and a reference to the repeated attacks on the Ukrainian power grid, he explained: “Do you want light? It is in each of us, even when there is no electricity.”
Russia’s President Putin had his wartime New Year’s speech recorded this time surrounded by soldiers. “It has been a year of difficult, necessary decisions, important steps towards maintaining Russia’s full sovereignty and with a tremendous consolidation in our society,” Putin said in the speech broadcast on Saturday.
At the same time he accused the West of “lying”. “Western elites have hypocritically assured all of us for years of their peaceful intentions, including solving the most serious conflict in Donbass,” Putin said. “The West lied about peace and is preparing for aggression. And today he’s not even ashamed to admit it openly.”
Despite the damage inflicted by Russian missile attacks, Ukrainians were able to welcome the New Year largely in the light. The energy suppliers had been instructed to give priority to supplying private households with electricity for the New Year celebrations. On Saturday, the supermarkets in Kyiv were very busy after the three-hour air raid alarm. Shortly before the festival, the residents of the capital stocked up on delicacies and the traditional sparkling wine.
Despite the holiday, the 11pm local time (10pm GMT) curfew in Kyiv and most areas has not been lifted. In more western areas such as Lviv (Lemberg), Chernivtsi (Chernowitz), Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi and Rivne, the curfew only applied from midnight. Only in the westernmost region of Zakarpattia, which borders Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, was there no curfew. In general, there was a nationwide ban on fireworks.
Shortly before the New Year, Russia and Ukraine again exchanged prisoners of war. 140 Ukrainian soldiers have returned home, said the head of the presidential office in Kyiv, Andriy Ermak, on Telegram on Saturday. On the other hand, the Russian army received 82 of their relatives, the state agency Tass reported. The place and time of the exchange were not mentioned.
The former Russian prisoners of war, mostly wounded soldiers, were immediately flown to Moscow for further treatment, Tass reported.
Eight women were among the released Ukrainians, Yermak said. The wounded were also handed over, as well as fighters from the port city of Mariupol. “Welcome home, dear ones,” he concluded his Telegram message.
Ukrainian artillery attacked Russian positions in eastern Ukraine on Saturday. The village of Pervomaiskoye in the Luhansk region of Donbass has been the target of at least two rounds of fire from the American Himars multiple rocket launcher, the Russian agency TASS reported, citing local authorities. No information was given about possible casualties or damage.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian media reported explosions near Dzhankoy Airport in Russian-occupied Crimea. Messages from social networks were quoted, according to which the detonations could be attributed to the use of anti-aircraft missiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recorded his wartime New Year’s speech surrounded by soldiers. “It was a year of difficult, necessary decisions, important steps towards maintaining Russia’s full sovereignty and with a tremendous consolidation in our society,” said Putin in the speech broadcast on Saturday, which was already seen on the Far Eastern peninsula of Kamchatka. The year 2023 had already begun there in the afternoon German time – with a time difference of eleven hours. Russia fired rockets at Ukraine again on Saturday.
At the same time, the Kremlin chief accused the West of “lying”. “Western elites have hypocritically assured all of us for years of their peaceful intentions, including solving the most serious conflict in Donbass,” Putin said. He had recently referred to statements by ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said in an interview that the peace plan for Donbass was also concluded with the aim of making Ukraine stronger. “The West lied about peace and is preparing for aggression. And today he’s not even ashamed to admit it openly.”
Ukraine and its people are being used to destroy Russia, Putin once again claimed. “We have never allowed that to anyone – and we will not allow it in the future either,” he said in an authoritarian, combative tone. Russia has held its own against the pressure from the West, which has been imposing sanctions since 2014, and averted an economic collapse. “This year we were declared a real sanctions war. Those who instigated it expected total destruction of our industry, finance and transportation. That didn’t happen,” Putin said.
According to the Kremlin on Saturday, the 70-year-old visited the southern military district to talk to the commanders and soldiers. He called them to go forward and fight. At the same time, he conceded that there was still a lot to be done – also with a view to equipping the army with modern weapons.
According to the authorities, there were dead and injured in new Russian attacks on Ukraine shortly before the New Year. Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced in Kyiv on Saturday that an elderly man had been killed in the capital and eight people had been injured. A journalist from Japan was among the injured, Klitschko said. One person killed in the attacks was also reported from the Zaporizhia region.
The deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, published a photo and video of a partially destroyed hotel in Kyiv, which is also used by journalists, in the Telegram news service. It was an attack by murderers and terrorists, he said. It makes the Russians happy at the holiday table to see a destroyed hotel in the heart of Kiev. As a result of the impacts, the panes in the Palace of Culture “Palace Ukraine” were also destroyed, he said. Normally there are women with their children. It was fortunate that no one was there at the time of the attack.
Four people were injured in the western Ukrainian region of Khmelnytskyi and two were injured in Mykolaiv. Russia launched drone and missile attacks on Ukraine on Thursday. On the last day of the year there was again an air alert everywhere. The authorities called on people to seek shelter in bunkers.
The chairman of the Munich Security Conference and former foreign policy adviser to ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel, Christoph Heusgen, has acknowledged mistakes in Russia policy during his tenure. Gas never flowed through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, “but if you ask me – yes, in hindsight that was a mistake,” Heusgen told the “Welt am Sonntag”.
The federal government decided in 2015 for the German-Russian pipeline project because, following the reactor accident in Fukushima, Japan, they wanted to phase out nuclear energy quickly and Russian gas was the quickest and cheapest solution, explained Heusgen. “The SPD and the economy” were “very much in favor”.
Heusgen demanded in the “jerkin” the delivery of German Leopard main battle tanks to the Ukraine. Germany has “a moral obligation to support this country,” he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin is counting on “the economic and military support of Ukraine by the USA and Europe decreasing,” Heusgen warned. Despite requests from Kyiv, the German government has so far refused to hand over modern Leopard and Marder tanks to Ukraine.
The security expert Heusgen also spoke out in favor of a European nuclear weapons umbrella. Germany should comment on France’s offer to negotiate a share in French nuclear weapons, Heusgen said, adding: “We should take up this offer and make it a European project that allows British participation.” If the US focuses more on Asia and Europe must ensure its own security, “this should no longer be a taboo subject,” argued Heusgen.
According to Ukrainian sources, Russia is preparing a new wave of mobilization. Russian President Putin is also planning to close the borders. The Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in a video speech. “I know for sure that you have about a week left,” he said to the Russian people. “In early January, the Russian authorities will close the borders to people, declare martial law and launch another wave of mobilizations. The borders will also be closed in Belarus.” According to Reznikov, the new mobilization this time should also affect “the residents of large Russian cities”. Military experts have already suspected that Russia will soon launch a new wave of mobilization that is said to be better planned than the previous one.
The US analysts at the Institute for the Study of War write that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “further opened the floodgates to institutionalized corruption in Russia” by manipulating laws again Officials, including members of the military and law enforcement agencies, exempt from the obligation to publish income statements.
The decree also lifts the ban on military officials receiving “charitable” gifts related to the war in Ukraine. The independent Russian newspaper The Insider said the law could theoretically allow Russian military officials in Ukraine to confiscate the private property of Ukrainian residents in the occupied territories, as such property could legally be classified as “charitable gifts.”
Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine on February 24, the alarm sirens have sounded around 640 times in the capital Kyiv. Overall, since the end of February, the state of alarm has been in effect for almost 700 hours, said Kiev’s military administration chief Serhiy Popko on Friday. “That’s practically 29 days, almost a whole calendar month, that the city’s citizens spent in shelters and bunkers.” In total, the capital experienced 52 air raids in which 120 people died, including five children. 495 people were injured in the rocket and cruise missile attacks.
More than 600 buildings were damaged by the attacks, Popko said. The critical infrastructure of the capital had been significantly damaged. The number of casualties and damaged buildings could not be independently verified.
According to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov, the Russian army has lost a lot of its effectiveness over the years due to its losses in Ukraine. The Russian armed forces would need at least five years to rebuild. “According to the findings of NATO reconnaissance, the Russians have suffered huge losses in tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers and soldiers,” Resnikov was quoted as saying by the newspaper Ukrajinska Pravda.
“The regular armed forces of the Russian Federation could be restored in five years at the earliest, maybe in ten years,” the minister said. That also applies to Russia’s missile potential. After all, this is a war of resources. “And they (NATO) can calculate these resources.”
According to the military, since the beginning of the Russian invasion and the declaration of a state of war in Ukraine, several thousand young Ukrainians have tried to evade military service. As the Ukrainian border troops announced on Friday, almost 12,000 men were caught trying to illegally cross the country’s border to the west. 15 men died while crossing the border.
In Russia, too, thousands of young men tried to evade military service. Immediately after the partial mobilization in September, thousands fled abroad, and veritable small Russian colonies were established in some former Soviet republics.
That will be important on Saturday
At the end of a year that was strongly marked by the war, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) calls on the people of Germany to show confidence and unite. In his speech, which will be broadcast on television on Saturday evening, he says, among other things: “We sympathize with the Ukrainians, who, even on days like today, cannot rest from the Russian bombs and rockets.”