Vladimir Putin shelled Ukraine’s largest cities in the hours before New Year’s Eve, after Russia accused Volodymyr Zelensky of bombing the Belgorod border region.
Dozens of people have been killed in both countries in the past 24 hours and more than 100 people have been injured. Most attacks in Ukraine have been focused on the south and east, but explosions were also reported in Kiev.
Russia said it was retaliation for Saturday’s attack on Belgorod, a town about 35 miles from the border, that killed at least 24 people.
Three children were among those killed in one of the deadliest attacks on Russia since Putin launched the invasion, the region’s governor said.
Hours later, air strike warnings sounded across Ukraine, urging people to take shelter. Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said today that at least six rockets hit Kharkov, injuring at least 28 people and striking residential buildings, hotels and medical facilities.
Earlier, Ukrainian officials said two boys aged 14 and 16 and a security adviser for a group of German journalists were among those injured in the city.
Around midnight, as part of a broader bombardment of Ukraine that also targeted Kiev, several waves of drones struck residential buildings in the center.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov said: “On New Year’s Eve, the Russians wanted to threaten our city, but we are not afraid, we are invincible. ” Images from Kharkiv showed several damaged buildings, including a hotel whose entire floor was destroyed.
The Ukrainian Air Force said the military shot down 21 of 49 drones launched by Russia overnight. In another attack, three people were killed when Russian forces shelled a village in the Kharkiv region, near the front line.
Ruslan Stefanchuk, Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, reacted to the scenes of destruction in Kharkov: “Crazy Russian terrorists attacked a peaceful city.
“Apartments and private houses, hospitals, hotels, kindergartens – these are the buildings damaged after the attack. None of these buildings are military installations.
“Nor did the civilians affected by the attack. Meanwhile, Russia called Ukraine’s airstrikes on Belgorod “indiscriminate”, but a Ukrainian security source told the BBC that only military infrastructure was targeted.
But images from the city showed destroyed residential buildings and burned-out cars in the middle of the street.
Russia’s Kommersant newspaper cited a source close to the Russian Investigative Committee as saying that Ukraine conducted an attack with a multiple rocket launcher in the Kharkov area.
Both sides stepped up bombing in the final week of 2023, with Russia killing at least 31 civilians on Friday in its biggest airstrike in the 22-month war against Ukraine.