Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of “following the devil” and waging a war to ensure that its President Vladimir Putin remains in power “until the end of his life.”
Zelensky switched to speaking Russian in his nightly address on Saturday to send a message to the Kremlin and Russian citizens, as Moscow launched a series of deadly strikes that swept several regions of Ukraine ahead of New Year.
“All this war that you are waging, you – Russia, it is not the war with NATO, as your propagandists lie,” Zelensky said. “It is not for something historical. It’s for one person to remain in power until the end of his life.
“And what will be with all of you, citizens of Russia, does not concern him,” he added.
Zelensky said “Russian leader is hiding behind the troops, behind missiles, behind the walls of his residences and palaces” and behind his people. “He hides behind you and burns your country and your future. No one will ever forgive you for terror,” Zelensky emphasized.
Zelensky said “most of the Russian missiles intercepted by air defense forces.”
“If it were not for air defense, the number of casualties would have been different. Much bigger,” he stressed. “And this is yet another proof for the world that support for Ukraine must be increased.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal earlier said Moscow wants to cause darkness and leave the country “in the dark for the New Year.”
Moscow intends to “intimidate, leave us in the dark for the new year, cause as much damage to civilian infrastructure as possible,” Shmyhal said on Telegram.
“There are attacks on civilian infrastructure in different regions of our country. Residential buildings, hotel, (a) shop, place for festivals were damaged. There are dead and injured,” he wrote.
“Russians want to intimidate, leave us in the dark for the New Year, cause as much damage to civilian infrastructure as possible.”
Russian shelling in recent weeks targeting critical infrastructure across Ukraine has left much of the country without access to heat and power, amid a harsh winter season.
Out of the 20 injured, 14 were hospitalized, while six others were given medical care on the spot, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.
Several school buildings in the capital suffered severe damage from the explosions, the mayor added.
Air raid sirens, which were activated earlier following the attacks, are now off in Kyiv.
Further east in the Donetsk, Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions, Russian strikes killed at least six people.
Three people died and three more were wounded in the Donetsk region, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Telegram.
One person was wounded in the Zaporizhzhia region. Two were killed and one wounded in the Kharkiv region. Two people were wounded in the Kherson region, while one died in the Chernihiv region.
It came after Russia launched five missiles and 29 air strikes on Friday, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Saturday.
“26 of the enemy’s air strikes were on civilian infrastructure. In particular, the occupants used 10 Shahed-136 UAVs, but all of them were shot down. In addition, the enemy made 80 attacks from multiple rocket launchers, civilian settlements were also hit,” the General Staff said in its latest operational update.
It said that Russia “continues to conduct offensive actions at the Lyman and Bakhmut directions and is trying to improve the tactical situation at the Kupiansk and Avdiivka directions.”
Russian forces fired on several towns and villages, including in Lyman, in the direction of Bakhmut, in the areas of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
In pictures: Russia invades Ukraine
Thirty percent of the capital was left without power due to emergency shutdowns, Klitschko said.
“The municipal ‘life support system’ of the capital is operating normally. Currently, 30% of consumers are without electricity. Due to emergency shutdowns,” he said on Telegram.
“Kyiv residents have water and heat,” he added.
Klitschko also reported that the restrictions were applied to check the open section of the red metro line in the city “for the presence of remnants of missile debris.”
“Specialists are on the way to that area,” he said. “We will inform you further about the resumption of traffic on the red line.”
Locals in Kyiv told CNN how they planned to spend the New Year in the capital.
“From 2023 I really want to win, and also to have more bright impressions and new emotions. I miss it very much. I also want to travel and open borders. And I also think about personal and professional growth, because one should not stand still. I have to develop and work for the benefit of the country,” said Alyona Bogulska, a 29-year-old financier.
“This year, it’s a symbol, not that it’s a small victory, but a symbol that we survived the year,” said Tatiana Tkachuk, a 43-year-old pharmacy employee.
“And I want to thank everyone who helps Ukraine. We’ve made a lot of friends. And in order to understand that we have a lot of good things, unfortunately, we had to go through terrible things. But so many people are doing real miracles for Ukraine.”
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska said the country “will persevere,” following the strikes.
“On New Year’s Eve, cities should be covered by wave of celebration, joy and hope. Ukrainian cities are again covered by missile wave from Russia,” Zelenska tweeted.
“Ruining lives of others is a disgusting habit of our neighbors. But we will persevere and be even stronger – in spite of everything.”