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Russia says at least 25 dead after Ukrainian attack on Belgorod

Source: Meduza

Ukraine’s Armed Forces launched an attack on the Russian city of Belgorod Saturday afternoon, reports Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. Eyewitnesses say the shelling was “one of the heaviest” since the beginning of the war.

Gladkov reported that at least 25 people were killed, including five children, and 109 people were injured in the attack.

According to the Telegram channel Baza, one of the missiles fell on an ice skating rink that was open at the time. The Belgorod State Technical University was also reportedly hit.

Local authorities had a delayed response to the attack. A resident told the news outlet 7x7 that the Emergency Situations Ministry sent out messages instructing people to turn off gas and water, grab essential items, and go to shelters after the attack had started. Many shelters were sealed and locked, preventing people from getting in. Air raid sirens were turned off about an hour after the attack. The Telegram channel Shot reported that authorities intend to declare a state of emergency in the city to address the aftermath. Many roads in the city center are currently blocked.

Ukrainian media, citing sources in the security services, called the strikes a response to Russia’s massive December 29 attack on Ukraine. RBC Ukraine wrote that Ukraine’s “security and defense forces” carried out the strikes and that they were aimed at military targets. A source told RBC Ukraine that this was a “general measure that is a consequence of the barbaric shelling of Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Odesa, and the murder of civilians.” Ukrainian news outlet Suspilne also wrote that the strikes were a response to attacks on Ukrainian cities; the publication’s sources emphasized that the strikes were aimed at “military targets” in Belgorod. A source told Ukrainska Pravda that “the damage to civilian infrastructure that we see in Belgorod is a consequence of the Russian air defense’s unprofessional actions, as well as deliberate and planned provocations.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Ukrainian attack on Belgorod was an attempt to “distract from defeats on the front” and to “provoke us into similar actions.” The ministry reiterated the official position that the Russian military allegedly “always targets only military objects and infrastructure directly related to them.”

Russia’s massive attack on cities across Ukraine

Russia launches massive drone and missile strike across Ukraine, killing and wounding civilians

Russia’s massive attack on cities across Ukraine

Russia launches massive drone and missile strike across Ukraine, killing and wounding civilians

Russia’s Defense Ministry said that the strike was carried out with Vilkha missiles and Vampire MLRS and that most of them were intercepted. Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case under articles on murder, attempted murder, and intentional destruction of property. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in relation to the incident. Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that the U.K. was behind the attack.

Based on videos of the attack, it appears that munitions with explosive payloads of 110-220 pounds detonated in Belgorod. In one of the videos, it’s possible to determine the direction from which the missile came: it likely flew from the south (from the direction of the border with Ukraine) before penetrating the wall of one of Belgorod State Technological University’s buildings. Several other videos show that some of the munitions that exploded in the city were equipped with submunitions. These could have been either malfunctioning Russian air defense missiles or Ukrainian missiles fired from multiple launch rocket systems (such as the Uragan).

The sound of cluster munitions exploding supports the Uragan theory (these rockets can carry cluster warheads with submunitions containing pre-formed striking elements). Another possibility is that the strike was carried out by missiles from the S-200 air defense system, reconfigured for hitting ground targets. Russian authorities have previously claimed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces were trying to carry out strikes with these missiles, and the Ukrainian command acknowledged that it was preparing to use the S-200 systems in this way.

Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry

This was the second attack on Belgorod in two days. On the evening of December 29, Gladkov reported that defense systems shot down “several aerial targets” approaching the city. According to Gladkov, one person was killed and four were injured in the attack.

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