31 Dec 2023

Ukraine Launches Fatal Strikes on Russian Border City Belgorod, 21 Die, 110 Injured

In the aftermath of an 18-hour aerial onslaught on Ukraine, the country has executed a series of lethal strikes on the Russian border city of Belgorod. Russian officials reported that the explosions on Saturday in the city center claimed the lives of 21 individuals, including three children, and left 110 others injured.

One of the deadliest incidents in Russia

This attack would mark one of the deadliest incidents in Russia during the ongoing conflict. A Ukrainian security source suggested to the media that the casualties in Belgorod were due to the "incompetent work of Russian air defense," proposing that debris from failed interceptors fell on the city. 

Belgorod serves as a crucial point for Russian supply lines

Footage from Russian social media displayed burning cars and damaged buildings in Belgorod, with one strike reportedly hitting near a central ice rink. Located just over half an hour's drive from the Ukrainian border, Belgorod serves as a crucial point for Russian supply lines and has endured months of shelling and drone attacks attributed to Ukraine.

On the same day, a Russian attack on central Kharkiv resulted in over 20 injuries, including a missile hitting the Kharkiv Palace hotel and injuring a British citizen. Russian officials reported shooting down 32 Ukrainian drones and claimed that cross-border shelling killed two individuals in Russia.

"Crime will not go unpunished"

Russian President Vladimir Putin was briefed about the Belgorod strike, and the minister of health was instructed to visit the affected area. Russia's defence ministry accused Kyiv of using Ukrainian Olkha and Czech-made Vampire rockets with cluster-munition warheads during the attack and vowed that the "crime will not go unpunished."

While Ukraine has not officially acknowledged launching any strikes on Saturday, Ukrainian media, citing law enforcement agencies, asserted that the attacks targeted military objectives in retaliation for Friday's massive bombardment of Ukrainian cities.

UNSC had condemned Russia's earlier air campaign in Ukraine

The UN Security Council, in an emergency meeting on Friday evening, had condemned Russia's extensive air campaign in Ukraine, emphasizing the dire impact on civilians during the holiday season. The international community remains concerned about the escalating conflict, with neighboring countries such as Poland reporting potential airspace violations by Russian missiles.

Russia's charge d'affaires in Poland declined to comment on the incident until concrete evidence of airspace violation was provided by Warsaw, stating that accusations were currently unsubstantiated.

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