Europe was bidding farewell to a year that saw a major war erupt after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, with no end in sight to the conflict.

Curfews ranging from 7pm to midnight remained in place across Ukraine, making the celebration of the beginning of 2023 impossible in public spaces. Several regional governors posted messages on social media warning residents not to break restrictions on New Year’s Eve, with some even warning that the police presence on city streets would be increased at night.

“I would really like this year to be over”, said Kyiv resident Oksana Mozorenko, 35, though she said her family had put up a Christmas tree and bought presents to make it “a real holiday”.

Russia carried out its second major round of missile attacks on Ukraine in three days on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said, with explosions reported throughout the country.

“The terrorist country launched several waves of missiles. They are wishing us a happy New Year. But we will persevere,” the governor of Kyiv region, Oleksiy Kuleba, wrote on Telegram.

Russian President Vladimir Putin devoted his annual New Year’s address to rallying the Russian people behind his troops fighting in Ukraine.

Paris was set to stage its first New Year fireworks since 2019. A 10-minute firework show was set to kick off at midnight, with 500,000 people expected to gather on the Champs-Elysees avenue to watch.

Like many places, the Czech capital Prague was feeling the pinch economically and so was not holding a fireworks display.

“The main reasons include the situation in Ukraine and the unfavourable economic situation of many Prague households and the related need to seek financial savings on the part of the capital,” city hall spokesman Vit Hofman said. “Holding celebrations did not seem appropriate.”

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In an echo of sometimes violent weather extremes around the world in 2022, heavy rain and high winds on Saturday meant firework shows in the Netherlands’ main cities including Amsterdam and The Hague – and the national televised display in the port city of Rotterdam – were cancelled.

But several European cities were recording record warmth for the time of year. The Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute said on Twitter it was seeing the warmest New Year’s Eve recorded, with the temperature in Prague’s centre, where records go back 247 years, reaching 17.7 Celsius.

It was also the warmest New Year’s Eve ever recorded in France, official weather forecaster Meteo France said.

In Croatia, dozens of cities, including the capital Zagreb, cancelled the fireworks after pet lovers warned about the damaging effects of noise and gases on animals and people, calling for more environmentally aware celebrations.

The Adriatic town of Rovinj planned to replace fireworks with laser shows and Zagreb was putting on confetti, visual effects and music. The port town of Rijeka aimed to re-direct funds allocated for fireworks to animal care associations, authorities said.

By Justin

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