The New Year rings in as Asia and Europe usher out stormy 2022

With fireworks in London, Paris and Berlin, hopes for an end to the war in Ukraine and a return to post-Covid normality, Europe and Asia bid farewell to 2022.

It was a year marked by the conflict in Ukraine, economic stresses and the effects of global warming. But it was also a year that saw a dramatic soccer World Cup, rapid technological change, and efforts to meet climate challenges.

For Ukraine, there seemed to be no end in sight to the fighting that began when Russia invaded in February. On Saturday, Russia fired a barrage of cruise missiles that Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman described as “Terror on New Year’s Eve.”

Evening curfews remained in place nationwide, making the celebration of the beginning of 2023 impossible in many public spaces. Several regional governors posted messages on social media warning residents not to break restrictions.

In Kyiv, though, people gathered near the city’s central Christmas tree as midnight approached.

“We are not giving up. They couldn’t ruin our celebrations,” said 36-year-old Yaryna, who was celebrating with her husband, tinsel and fairy lights wrapped around her.In a video message to mark the New Year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Time Magazine’s 2022 Person of the Year, said: “I want to wish all of us one thing – victory.”

Soon after midnight, air raid sirens wailed across the country once again.

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

Festivities in Moscow were muted, without the usual fireworks on Red Square.”One should not pretend that nothing is happening – our people are dying (in Ukraine),” said 68-year-old Yelena Popova. “A holiday is being celebrated, but there must be limits.” Many Muscovites said they hoped for peace in 2023.

The London Eye turned blue and yellow in solidarity with Ukraine as fireworks saw in midnight in the British capital.

The celebration, which London’s mayor had branded the biggest in Europe, also referenced Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September, the red and white of England’s soccer team, and the rainbow colours of the LGBTQ Pride event, which had its 50-year anniversary in 2022.

Elsewhere in the region, fireworks exploded over the Parthenon in Athens, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where crowds gathered on the Champs-Elysees avenue to watch the French capital’s first New Year fireworks since 2019.

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

“Holding celebrations did not seem appropriate,” said city hall spokesman Vit Hofman.

Heavy rain and high winds meant firework shows in the Netherlands’ main cities were cancelled.

But several European cities were enjoying record warmth for the time of year. In Prague, it was the warmest New Year’s Eve in its 247 years of records, with temperatures reaching 17.7 Celsius (63.9 Fahrenheit).

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


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