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Kyiv observes day of mourning as Ukraine sees deadly start to 2024

The first day of 2024 has officially been declared a day of mourning in Ukraine’s capital as the death toll continued to climb from Friday’s massive attacks by Russia and fresh assaults were launched overnight.

At least 27 people were killed and 30 injured in Kyiv in Friday’s attack, its city military administration reported Monday after more bodies were recovered from the rubble while search and rescue operations remained ongoing.

A total of at least 52 people across Ukraine were killed in Friday’s attacks, which struck nationwide, with blasts reported in the capital Kyiv, as well as at a maternity hospital in the central city of Dnipro, the eastern city of Kharkiv, the southeastern port of Odesa, and the western city of Lviv, far from the frontlines.

Ukrainians across the country on Sunday and into Monday saw in the new year to the sound of air alerts and fresh Russian attacks.

On Monday, Ukraine’s Air Force Command said Russia launched a record 90 drone attacks on New Year’s Eve. Overnight, 90 Shahed drones were launched in waves from Kursk and Primorsko-Akhtarsk in Russia and Crimea, and air alerts were declared in most regions of Ukraine along the route of the drones.

“A year ago, on New Year’s Eve, the defenders of the sky destroyed 45 ‘Shaheds.’ Today 87 Shaheds were destroyed,” Ukraine Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said in a Telegram post.

Russian shelling hours into the new year on Monday killed at least five people and wounded 22.

The southern city of Odesa came under an aerial assault from unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launched from the Black Sea that hit residential buildings early Monday morning, according to the Ukrainian Air Force. One person died and at least nine were injured in the attack, Oleh Kiper, the head of the Odesa region military administration said.

And the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, illegally annexed by Russia, was targeted by at least 15 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) overnight at the stroke of midnight locally, according to Vladimir Rogov, member of the Russian-installed Zaporizhzhia administration.

The shelling killed four people and wounded 13, according to Denis Pushilin, the Russian-installed head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.

In his New Year’s Eve speech Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sought to rally the country, saying “we defeated the darkness,” as the war closes in on two years.

“Ukraine has become stronger. Ukrainians have become stronger… at the beginning of 2023, in January and February, we surmounted, without exaggeration, the most difficult winter in history… we did not fade away in the darkness. The darkness did not engulf us. We defeated the darkness,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky acknowledged that there have been challenges but implored the Ukrainian people to persevere.

“The war, unfortunately, separated families, took away sons and daughters, and at the same time united us into one big family… hold onto the belief in Ukraine’s return. Knowing that all expectations are not in vain. And I want you to feel our gratitude to you for this. And remember: without each and every one of you, Ukraine will be incomplete.”

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