3 Jul, 2022 09:07
At least four people have been killed in Belgorod overnight in what appears to be the worst-ever shelling of Russian territory by Ukraine
Ukraine launched three Tochka-U ballistic missiles loaded with cluster munitions at the Russian city of Belgorod, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday. It added that all three had been intercepted mid-air, but that parts of one of the missiles had hit a house.
Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that three people were killed and four injured overnight. He added that 11 apartment buildings and at least 39 smaller houses were damaged.
Gladkov later said that the death toll had grown to four. Three of the victims are Ukrainian nationals and one is a Russian citizen, he added.
Russian news outlet Baza later reported that two more bodies were recovered from under the rubble, raising the death toll to five. This has not yet been confirmed by officials.
Belgorod is located around 40 kilometers from the Russia-Ukraine border.
Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said that Ukraine had also sent two Tu-143 Reys drones, “loaded with explosives,” towards Kursk, another Russian city close to the border. He said both drones were destroyed by air defenses before reaching the city.
The Russian authorities have repeatedly accused Ukraine of shelling cities and villages close to the border. Moscow previously warned that it would hit Ukrainian “decision-making centers, including Kiev” if attacks on Russian territory did not stop.
Kiev accused Russian troops of attacking residential areas and killing civilians throughout Ukraine. Moscow insists its forces are only striking military targets.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.