Russia said 15 people were injured in Ukrainian shelling and a drone strike on its Belgorod region and that a cross-border raid in the area was repelled, after Moscow’s latest missile strike on Kyiv killed three civilians and injured at least 14 others.
Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said 12 people were hurt in the town of Shebekino, which is about 7km from the Ukrainian border, and one was wounded in nearby Borisovsky district. However, Russian anti-Kremlin guerrillas who claimed to have infiltrated the area for a second time in 10 days blamed Moscow’s military for the shelling.
The Freedom of Russia legion and the Russian Volunteers Corps, which are fighting the Kremlin’s invasion force in Ukraine and vow to topple Russian president Vladimir Putin, posted videos from what they said was a new operation in Belgorod region.
Russian defence ministry Igor Konashenkov said an attempt by “Ukrainian terrorist groups” to cross the border into Belgorod region had been foiled.
“This morning, the Russian armed forces jointly with the border guards and other units of the FSB (security service) of Russia thwarted another attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist act against civilians of the town of Shebekino in the Belgorod region,” he announced.
“The Kyiv regime’s terrorist groups suffered heavy losses and were pushed back…No violations of the state border were allowed,” he added.
The same two militia groups claimed on May 22nd to have crossed the border and taken control of at least two villages for about a day. Moscow said about 70 of the guerrillas were killed in the raid, but the groups said they suffered only a handful of dead and injured.
Russian officials said that two people were also hurt when a drone crashed and exploded in Belgorod city, the regional capital about 40km from Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Putin was in “constant working contact” with Belgorod officials who were “working very actively and selflessly.”
“Certainly, this cannot have any effect on the course of the military operation,” he added, using the Kremlin’s term for an all-out invasion of Ukraine that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions since Mr Putin launched it 15 months ago.
Ukrainian officials said air defence units shot down 10 Iskander missiles fired by Russia at Kyiv overnight, and that falling debris killed three people, including a nine-year-old girl, as they tried to get into a bomb shelter that was locked.
“The air alert sounded. My wife took our daughter and they ran to the entrance here,” local resident Yaroslav Ryabchuk said. “The entrance was closed, there were already maybe five to 10 women with children. No one opened up for them. They knocked loudly enough…My wife died.”
Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv military administration, said that “this tragedy…is the responsibility of the authorities at all levels - from the head of the city to the heads of the district.
“Therefore, no one - neither me, nor any other senior or lower-level leader in this city - has the right to absolve themselves of responsibility until the completion of investigations,” he added.
Other Kyiv officials said all bomb shelters in the city would now be open constantly, rather than being unlocked by a caretaker when the air raid siren sounds.
Russia has intensified air strikes on Ukraine in recent weeks, conducting 17 last month on Kyiv alone, using Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones and ballistic and cruise missiles.