Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged his people to be patient in the face of Russian attacks as the country celebrates Christmas.

“Freedom comes at a high price,” he said in a protest speech on Saturday. But slavery has an even higher price.’

Russian missile and drone strikes have left millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heat and running water.

Earlier on Saturday, 10 people were killed in a Russian airstrike in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, officials said.

Regional authorities said another 68 people were injured and urged local residents to donate blood on an urgent basis.

Describing Russia as a ‘terrorist country’, Zelensky accused Russian soldiers of ‘intimidation and killing for pleasure’.

In a post on social media, he showed pictures of streets littered with dead bodies and burning cars, saying, ‘The world must see and realize what an extreme devil we are fighting.’

Ukraine last month liberated Kherson, the only regional capital Russia captured after launching a full-scale invasion on February 24.

Since then it has been frequently targeted by Russian forces stationed on the left (east) bank of the Dnipro River.

Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in its attacks. However, President Vladimir Putin recently admitted that Russian troops were hitting key energy facilities in Ukraine.

Most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians and mark Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve) on January 6 as the main day of the country’s festive season.

However, a growing number of worshipers are celebrating the day on December 24, in line with the majority of Christians around the world.

In a video address to the nation late Saturday night, Zelensky said, ‘We endured the beginning of the war. We have endured attacks, threats, nuclear blackmail, terrorism, missile attacks. Let’s endure this winter because we know what we’re up against.’

‘We will celebrate our holidays as usual. We will laugh and be happy as always. The difference is one. We will not wait for a miracle. After all, we make it ourselves.’ He said.

The BBC’s Hugo Bachega in Kiev says Christmas will be dark and cold for many Ukrainians. But Ukrainians say the hardships have made them stronger, as the war enters its 11th month.

Fierce fighting continued in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region on Saturday as Russian troops stormed the strategic town of Bakhmut.

(25 December/FA)