Russia Beefs Up Air Defenses Over Moscow For New Year Celebrations
Russia says it has beefed up its anti-air defenses surrounding Moscow and other high population places across the country for the New Year's weekend, given there's expected to be large public gatherings celebrating the coming of 2023.
The defense ministry was quoted in TASS as saying that some 2,000 service personnel are currently manning Moscow's air defenses while "on duty at combat posts on New Year's Eve."
"In total for the period of the New Year holidays and weekends, about 20 thousand military personnel of the air defense-missile defense formation of the Aerospace Forces will be on combat duty for air defense," the TASS statement continued.
While there's as yet to be any recorded Ukrainian missile or drone attack on Moscow (and the reality is that Ukrainian forces unlikely have this capability at this point), there has been a spate of recent attacks on Russian soil, especially in the Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border.
Additionally, in December there's been no less than three drone attacks on Engels airbase, which lies over 600km from the Ukrainian border.
Meanwhile, on Saturday the Ukrainian capital was rocked by more airstrikes. "Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said there had been several blasts in the capital, causing at least one death. A hotel has also been damaged," BBC reports.
And in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, which also witnessed large blasts, regional Governor Vitaly Kim stated: "The occupiers have decided to try to spoil the day for us" - in reference to New Year's Eve celebrations.
This video published by Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the President's Office, shows the Alfavito hotel in central Kyiv, which was damaged by Russia's mass missile strike on Dec. 31. pic.twitter.com/VjjqrYXxn5— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) December 31, 2022
Ahead of these Saturday attacks Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned the population that Russia was readying more attacks to make Ukrainians "celebrate the New Year in darkness." Indeed much of the country is still without power, or else subject to rolling emergency blackouts.