A terrified resident of Kyiv has told Newsweek how she feared for her life during Russia’s latest missile barrage on the city as Ukrainians prepared to mark the first New Year’s Eve since Vladimir Putin‘s full-scale invasion in February.
Daryna Antoniuk, who lives on the right bank of Kyiv in the city center, was drinking coffee and reading a Harry Potter book given to her as a gift when she heard the air raid siren go off on Saturday morning.
Initially reluctant to go to a bomb shelter, where it is cold and damp, an alert announced by police officers in cars driving down the streets signalled a heightened degree of urgency.
“It was very loud and scary,” she told Newsweek. “The explosions began before I reached the bomb shelter. I started running. Then it turned out that the missiles hit very close to my house.”
Joining her in the bomb shelter were frightened neighbors and children as well as a dog who was shaking with fear. “The explosions continued, the walls of the bomb shelter were shaking,” she said, as she stayed in the shelter for around two hours.
She went home before the air raid alert ended although her hands “are still shaking a lot.”
“The only thing I can think about is how grateful I am to our air defense forces,” she said, having tweeted about her experience. “My friends and I still plan to celebrate the New Year together because we need some distraction. But it will not be fun at all.”
“I thought I’d die but it’s a normal feeling in Ukraine,” she said. “Every day I wake up with the thought— it can happen to me or my friends.”
“People die every day and the fact that I’m alive and can even try to live normally…it’s incredible,” she added.
The air raid siren Antoniuk heard was one of many sounded across the country, with explosions heard in several regions.
Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko said that one person had died in the Solomianskyi district in the west of the Ukrainian capital and three others were injured. The Pecherskyi and Holosiivskyi districts in the central and west end of the city were also hit, he said.
A hotel and a detached house in Kyiv were struck by missiles, according to deputy head of the president’s office Kyrylo Tymoshenko, while 10 explosions were reportedly heard in the first barrage of attacks.
Ukrainian internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko tweeted video of the aftermath of the strike on a hotel and also shared footage of people sheltering in a metro station singing patriotic songs.
Video said to be from Astrakhan, Russia, showing trails of missiles fired at Ukraine from the Caspian Sea. Lots of them. Another big bang near me as I tweet this. pic.twitter.com/K3RFHuDShi
— Euan MacDonald (@Euan_MacDonald) December 31, 2022
He also tweeted news that a Japanese journalist was among the injured and the aftermath of strikes on the city of Mykolaiv.
The cities of Khmelnytskyi and Zaporizhzhia, and Kharkiv oblast, were also targeted, according to the Kyiv Independent, with the state electricity grid operator Ukrenergo temporarily restricting electricity supplies.
The journalist Euan MacDonald tweeted video of what he described as “trails of missiles fired at Ukraine from the Caspian Sea.”
“Another big bang near me as I tweet this,” he added. Newsweek has contacted Russia’s defense ministry for comment.
The attacks happened two days after Russia carried out one of the largest air strikes since the start of its invasion. British defense officials said on Saturday that that Russian strikes over the holiday period was a move “to undermine the morale of the Ukrainian population.”
Meanwhile, Putin gave a defiant message to the West on Saturday during a New Year’s video address in which he said that Russia was fighting in Ukraine to protect its “motherland.”
He also accused the West of of provoking Moscow to launch what it calls a “special military operation” and said that “Western elites hypocritically assured us of their peaceful intentions.”
Ukraine and the West reject Russia’s claims about how it was forced to start the war.
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