Early New Year’s Day missile attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian frontiers by Russian warplanes prove that Russia continues to pursue an aggressive policy toward Ukraine.
All day long, air raid sirens may be heard throughout Ukraine as people celebrate the holidays. The Ukrainian military retaliated against the strikes and was able to destroy over 45 drones made in Iran, according to the Air Force headquarters of Ukraine. Eyewitnesses said that as the siege continued, several residents reportedly came out onto their balconies and yelled, “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!” This showed that the Ukrainian people’s morale had not been affected.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia and the commander-in-chief of the Russian troops, declared that he would keep up his obstinate attempts to invade Ukraine. He said during a speech that the conflict with Ukraine has already lasted 11 months. Once he declares victory, he will keep fighting. Putin’s address contrasts sharply with the sentiments of appreciation, peace, and togetherness expressed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his speech. Early on, Russia’s involvement in the conflict was greatly diminished due to losses in crucial battleground zones. Analysts predicted that Russia would not win the war as a result. Putin would not, however, capitulate, as they had expected.
“Since September, I see a lot of changes [in Russia] and a lot of fears,” said Tatiana Stanovara, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar.
“For the first time since the war started, people are beginning to consider the worst-case scenario, that Russia can lose, and they don’t see and don’t understand how Russia can get out of this conflict without being destroyed. People are very anxious. They believe that what is going on is a disaster,” she added.
“The very fact that Russia is still waging this war, despite its apparent defeats in March [when its forces withdrew from Kyiv], indicates that Putin is desperate not to lose,” said Ilya Matveev, a political scientist in St. Petersburg.
“I think that already everyone, including Putin, realized that even tactical nuclear weapons will not solve the problem for Russia. They cannot just stop [the] military advances of [the] Ukrainian army; it’s impossible. Therefore, tactical weapons cannot decisively change [the] situation on the ground,” Matveev added.
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Ukraine’s dismal New Year celebration
As the New Year arrived, Ukraine suffered from Russia’s onslaught, and many families were compelled to stay indoors. At 7 PM, a curfew was imposed, prohibiting Ukrainians from celebrating in public. According to Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, the initial inquiry found that the city’s capital had only suffered minimal damage and no casualties. However, Ukraine’s senior military officials said that in only one day, Russia had launched 31 missiles and 12 air attacks across the country.
“Russia coldly and cowardly attacked Ukraine in the early hours of the new year. But Putin still does not seem to understand that Ukrainians are made of iron,” wrote US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink.
The inquiry conducted by the police discovered there was at least one person murdered while the bombardments occurred. Kyiv head of police Andrii Nebytov had shared a picture in his Telegram account showing a drone with a Russian print, apparently from Russia, wishing them a “Happy New Year.” However, the rockets also caused more than a dozen injuries to Ukrainians.
“These wreckage are not at the front, where fierce battles are taking place. They are here, on a sports grounds, where children play,” said Nebytov.
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The US ally
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, recently paid a visit to the US and thanked his American partner for continuing to help his country in the conflict. Senior US government officials praised Zelenskky for his bravery and willingness to work with other international actors to end the conflict, which has already claimed thousands of lives. Zelenskyy emphasized the partnership between the US and Ukraine in a speech at the White House.
“I hope my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart. Against all odds and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking. We have artillery, yes. Thank you. We have it. Is it enough? Honestly, not really,” said Zelenskyy.
“The world is too interconnected and too interdependent to allow someone to stay aside and at the same time to feel safe when such a battle continues. Our two nations are allies in this battle, and next year will be a turning point, I know it – the point where Ukrainian courage. And American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom, the freedom of people who stand for their values,” the leader added.
“[The speech] connected the struggle of Ukrainian people to our own revolution, to our feelings that we want to be warm in our homes to celebrate Christmas and to get us to think about all the families in Ukraine that will be huddled in the cold and to know that they are on the front lines of freedom right now,” Clinton said.
“I also think no one is asking for a blank check. I believe the Ukrainians have proven that they are a good investment for the United States. They are not asking us to be there to fight their war. They’re fighting it themselves. They’re asking us and our allies for the means to not only defend themselves but to actually win,” she added.
Photo Credit: Valentyn Ogirenko