kraine will need the West’s support “for the long haul”, warned Nato’s secretary-general, as the country was subjected to a “cowardly” wave of fresh strikes by Russia on New Year’s Day.
The first few hours of 2023 saw Moscow again attack civilian targets in Ukraine, where it has been waging war since February.
Ukraine’s Air Force command said it had destroyed 45 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight – 32 of them on Sunday after midnight and 13 late on New Year’s Eve.
That was on top of 31 missile attacks and 12 air strikes that hit the country in 24 hours.
As Russia’s pummelling of civilian areas showed little sign of abating, Nato’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday Ukraine’s Western allies must “ramp up” arms production to ensure the country is kept fully supplied in its war against Russia.
Mr Stoltenberg said the conflict is consuming an “enormous amount” of munitions, while President Vladimir Putin is showing “no sign of giving up”.
He said Nato allies need to maintain their own stockpiles of weapons as well as continuing to supply the government in Kyiv with the armaments it needs.
“For the artillery, we need an enormous amount of ammunition, we need spare parts, we need maintenance,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend.
“This is a huge undertaking. We need to ramp up production, and that is exactly what the Nato allies are doing.
“It is a core responsibility for Nato to ensure that we have the stocks, the supplies, the weapons in place to ensure our own deterrence and defence, but also to be able to continue to provide support to Ukraine for the long haul.”
Mr Stoltenberg said that while the Ukrainians had enjoyed the upper hand in the fighting in recent weeks, there are indications the Russians are regrouping for a renewed offensive.
“Russia has shown no sign of giving up its overall goal of taking control over Ukraine,” he said.
“The Ukrainian forces have had the momentum for several months but we also know that Russia has mobilised many more forces. Many of them are now training.
“All that indicates that they are prepared to continue the war and also potentially try to launch a new offensive.”
While Mr Stoltenberg said he believes the war will “most likely” end around the negotiating table, he said it is essential to ensure the Ukrainians are able to enter any talks from a position of military strength.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said it had targeted production, storage and launch sites of Ukrainian drones with long range missiles on New Year’s Eve.
As sirens blared in Kyiv on Saturday, some Ukrainians were heard shouting from their balconies, “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!”
One drone used in an attack on Kyiv on New Year’s Eve appeared to bear a hand-written note saying ‘happy new year’ in Russian, in a photo posted on the Telegram messaging app by the capital’s chief of police, Andriy Nebytov.
“This wreckage is not at the front, where fierce battles are taking place, this is here, on a sports grounds, where children play,” Mr Nebytov said.
The late-night attacks caused minimal damage in the capital’s centre, and preliminarily reports indicated there were no wounded or casualties, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on social media.
Attacks earlier on Saturday had hit residential buildings and a hotel in the capital, killing at least one person and injuring more than 20.
US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink on Twitter described the New Year’s Day attacks as “beyond belief”.
“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,” she wrote.
Her sentiments were echoed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who issued a hopeful and defiant message to his people on New Year’s Eve.
Speaking in near darkness in front of a fluttering Ukrainian flag, Mr Zelensky described the past year as a national awakening.
“We were told: you have no other option but to surrender. We say: we have no other option than to win,” he said.
“This year has struck our hearts. We’ve cried out all the tears. We’ve shouted all the prayers,” he continued. “We fight and will continue to fight. For the sake of the key word: ‘victory’.”
Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin signalled no let-up to his assault on Ukraine, in a grim New Year‘s speech that contrasted with Mr Zelensky’s hopeful message.
“The main thing is the fate of Russia,” a stern-faced Mr Putin said in his New Year‘s Eve address, speaking in front of a group of people dressed in military uniform instead of the normal backdrop of the Kremlin walls.
“Defence of the fatherland is our sacred duty to our ancestors and descendants. Moral, historical righteousness is on our side.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s allies expressed solidarity with the warring country during New Year celebrations over the weekend.
London paid tribute to Ukraine during its spectacular fireworks display as it welcomed 2023, while French president Emmanuel Macron used his New Year’s Eve speech to assure France will stand by Ukraine until its victory.
“In the year that is starting, we will stand by you without fail,” he said.
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