Ukraine Latest: Russia Launches Strikes on Kyiv; Prisoner Swap

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Russia launched a wave of missile and drone strikes in Ukraine on New Year’s Eve, hitting a number of residential and other civilian targets. At least one person was killed in Kyiv.

Russia and Ukraine carried out a prisoner swap on Saturday that saw 140 Ukrainians returned to the country for 82 Russians. Such prisoner swaps have been carried out periodically during the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed to reinforce his nation’s air defenses in the new year, while Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping hailed deepening ties between Russia and China in talks Friday. That conversation comes despite signs that Beijing is impatient with the wider political and economic impact of Russia’s struggling invasion of Ukraine.

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On the Ground

Ukrainian armed forces repelled Russian attacks in more then 10 directions, Ukraine’s general staff reports. Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain the most active battlefields. Russia continued to shell civilian settlements through the whole front line, hitting residences and critical infrastructure. Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro and Kherson regions were under strikes Saturday morning as well as Kyiv.

(All times CET)

Fresh Strikes Rattle Kyiv, Other Ukrainian Regions (2:15 p.m.)

Ukraine faced a fresh round of missile and drone strikes on New Year Eve, as Kyiv authorities had predicted. Sirens blared across the country starting around midday, while Ukrenergo implemented temporary power cuts in the Odesa, Mykolayiv, Dnipro and Kyiv regions to reduce the overload in the power system to protect against strikes, local authorities said.

Kyiv city mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said that three schools, a kindergarden, and everal private houses were damaged in the attacks A Japanese journalist was among 16 people injured, Klitschko said on Telegram. President Zelenskiy said the latest attacks are “proof that support for Ukraine should be increased,” he said in a video address.

Putin Says Goal Is Still to End Ukraine’s Government (1:20 p.m.)

The Russian president said the aim of Russia’s Ukraine actions is “protecting our people in our own historical territories” and “to put an end to the criminal Nazi regime in Kyiv,” as he delivered his traditional New Year speech.

Surrounded by a group of solders in uniform, Putin said that 2022 was “a year of truly pivotal, fateful events,” according to state news wires, which reported the address as it aired in Russia’s far east.

He delivered the speech from the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, Interfax reported. He also presented the highest military award, the Order of St. George of 3d degree, to General Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russian operations in Ukraine since October according to Tass.

Ukraine Spent $32 Billion on Defense and Security in 2022 (9 a.m.)

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s spending on defense and security hit 1.2 trillion hryvnia ($32 billion), a government website said, citing Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. More than 250 billion hryvnia was directed to purchases of ammunition and repairs. “Next year, the building of a strong army will be the main task of the government,” Shmyhal said.

Scholz Tells Germans to Keep Saving Energy (12:00 a.m.)

Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged citizens to continue their energy-saving drive and said Germany’s new floating LNG terminals will make Europe independent of Russian gas for the long term.

In his New Year’s address to the nation, Scholz acknowledged that the energy crisis triggered by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was a “tough test” for the continent’s biggest economy.

Zelenskiy Vows to Create What May Be Europe’s Top Air Defenses (8:09 p.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his evening address that Ukraine will further bolster its air defenses in the new year as Russia continues to pound its electrical grid and cities with missiles and armed drones.

“This year we didn’t just save our air defense, we made it the strongest ever,” he said. “But in the new year Ukraine’s air defense will become even stronger and more efficient.”

Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s air defense could become the most powerful in Europe, which he said would help the defense of the continent as well as his nation.

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