We may only be two days into 2023 but Russia has marked both with dozens of missile and drone attacks against cities across Ukraine, killing at least four people and prompting one senior official to claim the strikes mark a deadly new shift in approach from the Kremlin.
What happened during the latest attack?
Kyiv was targeted by yet another wave of Iranian-made Shahed drones in the early hours of Monday morning, Jan. 2, and explosions could be heard throughout the night as air defenses got to work.
“It is loud in the region and in the capital: night drone attacks,” Kyiv governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.
At least 20 drones were shot down in the Kyiv region but some energy infrastructure facilities were damaged, Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko confirmed. Emergency power outages were in place, and some heating supplies in the capital were disrupted.
An explosion in Kyiv's northeastern Desnyansky district resulted in a 19-year-old man being hospitalized. Authorities later said he was cut by falling debris.
Who said there has been a change in Russia’s tactics?
On Sunday evening before the latest drone attack, adviser to President Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted: “Russia no longer has any military goals and is trying to kill as many civilians as possible and destroy more civilian facilities.”
He was referring to attacks over the weekend. The Ukrainian capital and other cities came under fire from missiles and Iranian-made drones on Saturday, killing three people, while on Sunday a fresh attack killed one person in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.
Also on Saturday, Russian artillery hit the village of Naddniprianske, outside the city of Kherson, severely wounding a 13-year-old boy.
Then the Russian army struck the hospital where the boy was lying in intensive care, smashing the windows.
"What did the 13-year-old boy do to these inhumans that they tried to kill him twice?" governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said on messaging app Telegram.
The Russian onslaught damaged the Kherson hospital and also left the city and the surrounding settlements without electricity.
Is this evidence of a ‘change of tactics’?
It’s perhaps too early to say for certain – Kherson has been shelled indiscriminately ever since Russian forces were forced to retreat from the city in November.
As for the attacks on Kyiv, Saturday’s missile attacks resulted in the destruction of a hotel in the center of the city rather than anything connected to energy infrastructure, which has been targeted by Russia’s renewed bombing campaign that began in October.
After suffering a series of humiliating battlefield defeats, Moscow started to target electrical and other critical infrastructure. The strikes have caused sweeping blackouts and cut off water supplies and heating to civilians as the temperature in some regions dropped below freezing.
Kyiv Police Chief Andriy Nebitov released a picture of the wreckage of a downed drone that featured the words "Happy New Year" in Russian. "That is everything you need to know about the terror state and its army," he wrote.
The drone attack on Monday morning appears to have been a continuation of this. But again, it’s difficult to say with certainty due to the excellent work of Ukraine’s air defense, which prevented most of the drones from hitting their targets.
The Ukrainian air force said 45 Iranian-made drones had been destroyed overnight Saturday to Sunday. "Thanks to our air force – pilots, anti-aircraft gunners... Well done, guys!" Zelensky said in his nightly address on Sunday.
Has Russia said anything official about a change in tactics?
Moscow said its New Year's attacks had targeted Ukraine's drone production.
In December, Moscow said it had shot down drones three separate times over Engels airfield, an airbase in southern Russia more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) from Ukraine.
Another base in Russia's Ryazan region also saw attacks from Ukraine's drones in early December, according to Moscow, killing three people.
After the weekend’s attacks, Russia's defense ministry said: "The plans of the Kyiv regime to carry out terror attacks against Russia in the near future have been thwarted."
No evidence has yet emerged to back up this claim.
What has Putin said?
Without a trace of irony, Putin said during his midnight address on New Year's Eve that "moral, historical rightness is on our side."
The UN's human rights chief has warned the campaign has inflicted "extreme hardship" on Ukrainians, and also decried probable war crimes by Russian forces.
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