Ukraine war: Missiles fired at Russian city Belgorod and occupied Crimea

Russian service members secure the area following what Russian authorities say was a Ukrainian military strike in Belgorod, Russia December 30, 2023.
Image caption,Deadly air strikes also hit the Russian city of Belgorod at the weekend, authorities there said

Russian officials say they have foiled a Ukrainian attack on a border city as the aerial war between the two nations continues to intensify.

The officials said a dozen missiles were downed before they could reach Belgorod, where 25 people were killed on Saturday. Ukraine has not commented.

The attacks come after Russia launched its biggest aerial bombardment yet.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia has used some 300 missiles and 200 drones over five days.

Russia’s renewed aerial bombardment on Ukraine began late last week. Ukrainian forces responded with Saturday’s attack on Belgorod in which more than 100 people were also injured.

In his nightly address, he said Russia had fired “almost one hundred missiles of various types” on Tuesday. They had, he said, been “specifically calculated by the enemy to cause as much damage as possible”.

According to Mr Zelensky, 10 hypersonic ballistic missiles had been shot down on Tuesday alone.

Ukrainian officials said early Wednesday that Tuesday’s attacks – including on Ukraine’s biggest cities including Kharkiv and Kyiv – had killed or injured more than 130 people across the country.

Meanwhile, one person was killed and five were injured across the border in Belgorod on Tuesday, according to the region’s governor. However, the 12 missiles fired at the area overnight were destroyed by Russia’s air defence system, the defence ministry said,

Blasts were also heard overnight in Sevastopol – the biggest city in Russian-occupied Crimea – where a missile was shot down over the port, the Moscow-installed governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said on Telegram. No casualties or damage were reported.

Speaking to the BBC, the Ukrainian ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, said Russia’s recent bombardment was “not something that came as a surprise” – but that for Ukraine to win the war they needed more weapons to respond and “just clearly send a message to Russia that they should stop”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already vowed to step up strikes in response to recent attacks on Belgorod by Ukraine.

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