Russia maintains its hostile stance toward Ukraine, with Russian warplanes launching missiles near Kyiv and other Ukrainian borders on New Year’s Day.
For the remainder of the day, Ukrainians enjoying the holidays hear air raid sirens. According to Ukraine’s Air Force headquarters, Ukrainian forces repulsed the strikes and destroyed around 45 Iranian-made drones. However, the enthusiasm of Ukrainians did not dwindle, as eyewitnesses said that many locals stepped out onto their balconies and chanted “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!” while the siege persisted.
Vladimir Putin, the commander of Russian forces and Russia’s president, has stated that he will continue his persistent attempts to launch operations against Ukraine. In a speech, he noted that the war against Ukraine had now entered its 11th month. And he will keep fighting until he declares victory. Putin’s address contrasts sharply with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s message of unity, peace, and appreciation. Early on, Russian forces lost critical areas within the combat zone, drastically lowering Russia’s stakes in the conflict. As a consequence, analysts believe Russia may lose the war. They expected, though, that Putin would not back down.
“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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A bad time to celebrate the New Year
Russia’s strike harmed Ukraine and caused many people to spend the New Year inside their homes. The curfew went into effect at 7 p.m., making public festivities for Ukrainians impossible. According to Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko, when the initial assessment was completed, there were only minor damages and no injuries in the city. However, according to Ukraine’s top military leaders, Russia launched 12 air attacks and 31 missiles throughout Ukraine in a single day.
“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.
Andrii Nebytov, the chief of police in Kyiv, uploaded a photo on Telegram of a drone apparently from Russia with a Russian print wishing them a “Happy New Year.” A later police investigation indicated that at least one person was killed during the bombardments. Meanwhile, the rockets have injured more than a dozen 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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Ukraine and its relationship with the US
During a recent visit to the United States, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked his Western partner for his ongoing assistance in the fight. Senior US officials praised Zelenskyy’s bravery and willingness to work with other international parties to end the war, which has already claimed thousands of lives. Zelenskyy emphasized Ukraine’s partnership with the US in a White House speech.
“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