Ukrainian leaders expressed outrage on Saturday after Russia shelled the city of Kherson, leaving at least ten dead and dozens wounded.
The attack on Christmas Eve reportedly killed Ukrainians shopping for the holiday, according to Kiev officials. The latest attack from Moscow comes exactly 10 months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the internationally condemned invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Kherson was captured and occupied by Putin’s forces in early March, shortly after the full-blown war began. Despite Russia claiming to have officially annexed the Ukrainian city, Kiev’s forces recaptured Kherson in early November — as residents of the region hailed their victory and welcomed them back.
“Dark Christmas Eve in Cherson. Russian invaders attacked the undefeated city with heavy weapons. Seven people who went out Christmas shopping were killed and 35 injured. #russiaisaterroriststate,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry tweeted on Saturday. The post contained images of burning cars in a downtown area and a blurred corpse on the street.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy furiously condemned the attack on Twitter, posting blurry images that appeared to show dead Ukrainians who had been killed.
Warning: The following tweets contain images that some readers may find disturbing.
“This is not sensitive content – this is real life from Kherson. On the eve of Christmas, in the central part of the city. “The world needs to see what absolute evil we are fighting.”
Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, called the latest Russian attack “another war crime” and also shared photos of the destruction on Twitter.
“The barbaric shelling of Kherson by Russian terrorists is not just another war crime, but revenge on its residents who resisted the occupation and proved to the whole world that Kherson is Ukraine,” he wrote.
The minister added: “Ukraine will be able to prevent such tragedies if it has more anti-battery means, more artillery and more long-range ammunition. This is how Russian murderers are punished and expelled from Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy had warned hours before the attack on Kherson that the Ukrainians should brace themselves for further Russian aggression.
“With the holiday season approaching, Russian terrorists could become active again,” the Ukrainian president said in an overnight address. “Therefore, please heed the air-raid signals, help each other and always take care of each other.”
At the time of publication, the death toll stood at 10 with around 55 injured, The Kyiv Independent reported. The Ukrainian publication, citing Kherson Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich, reported that 18 of the wounded were in serious condition.
Traditionally, most Ukrainians celebrated Christmas on January 6 and 7, which marks Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Julian calendar used by many Orthodox and Eastern churches. In recent years, Ukrainians have increasingly chosen to celebrate on December 24th and 25th, as is customary in Western Europe and America. According to a Ukrainian government website, both December 25 and January 7 are official national holidays.
“We’re celebrating today. Since the beginning of the war, many Ukrainians [have started] to celebrate now,” said Yuliia Herasymenko, a Ukrainian businesswoman living in Kyiv news week on Saturday. She also sent photos from a Christmas service she attended.
The postponement of holiday celebrations among Ukrainians reveals another widening rift with Moscow. Russia celebrates Christmas on January 7 as Russian Orthodoxy is the country’s most important religious belief. Increasingly, Ukrainians are turning against and distancing themselves from any ties with Russia, while Putin is pressing ahead with his war against them.
Moscow’s latest attack came as Putin was reportedly preparing to redouble his war effort. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a US-based think tank, assessed that the Kremlin has been considering a “new, highly dangerous course of action” since October. It is now more likely that a Russian buildup in Belarus will signal plans for a “renewed offensive.”
news week I asked the Russian Embassy for an opinion.
https://www.newsweek.com/putins-dark-christmas-eve-gift-kherson-blasted-ukrainian-leaders-1769506 Putin’s ‘dark Christmas Eve’ gift to Kherson vandalized by Ukrainian leaders