Explosions rock Kyiv as Putin accuses West of trying to destroy Russia

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Explosions have rocked the Ukrainian capital following warnings of a large-scale missile attack from Russia.

Ten explosions were heard in the capital on Saturday, while Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko, said one of the blasts occurred in an area of residential buildings in the capital’s Solomyanskyi district, and that there were explosions in two other parts of the city.

He did not say what had caused the explosions.

The governor of the surrounding Kyiv region, Oleksiy Kuleba, warned shortly beforehand of a possible incoming missile attack, and said air defences in the region were engaging targets.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence also warned of a possible missile barrage from Russia.

"The terrorist country launched several waves of missiles. They are wishing us a happy New Year but we will persevere," Mr Kuleba wrote on Telegram after several explosions shook the capital.

While explosions rocked Ukraine, Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that his country would never give in to the West’s attempts to use Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia.

In a New Year’s video message broadcast on Russian state TV, Putin said Russia was fighting in Ukraine to protect its "motherland" and to secure "true independence" for its people.

In a nine-minute message - the longest New Year’s address of his two-decade rule - Mr Putin accused the West of lying to Russia and of provoking Moscow to launch what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine, in quotes carried by Russian-state media.

"For years, Western elites hypocritically assured us of their peaceful intentions," he said in a speech filmed in front of Russian service personnel at the headquarters of Russia’s southern military district.

"In fact, in every possible way they were encouraging neo-Nazis who conducted open terrorism against civilians in the Donbas," Mr Putin said in an uncharacteristically combative New Year’s speech, usually dedicated to well wishes for the year ahead.

"The West lied about peace," he added. "It was preparing for aggression ... and now they are cynically using Ukraine and its people to weaken and split Russia.

"We have never allowed this, and will never allow anybody to do this to us.”