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Ukrainian missile strike in Russia's Belgorod kills six, injures 18 as war intensifies

Ukraine's attack comes hours after Russia fired two dozen missiles towards the former country, killing five people. Ukraine has also struck targets in Russian territory deep behind the front line as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues efforts to get Western assistance.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Moscow Published on: February 15, 2024 19:37 IST
Russia Ukraine war, Ukraine missile strike, Belgorod
Image Source : AP Authorities inspect damage after a Ukrainian missile strike in Russia's Belgorod.

Russia-Ukraine war: At least six people, including a child, were killed in a Ukrainian missile strike on Russia's southern city of Belgorod on Thursday, according to the Russian health ministry. The war between the two countries, entering its third year, has intensified through exchanges of long-missile and rocket fire in recent days.

The Russian ministry informed that an additional 18 people, including five children, were injured and that a team of medical specialists from federal centres had been despatched to the city. The governor of the neighbouring Kursk region, Roman Starovoit, said a shopping mall, an outdoor sports facility and residential areas were hit in the Ukrainian attack.

Belgorod is the nearest major Russian city to the border with Ukraine, and the city and surrounding region have come under frequent attack in the course of the war. Russian authorities said 25 civilians were killed in the biggest of these attacks at the end of December. Meanwhile, the Russian defence ministry said its air defence systems had shot down 14 Ukrainian missiles over the Belgorod region.

Hours before the Ukrainian assault, Russia fired two dozen cruise and ballistic missiles at a broad area of Ukraine, hitting multiple regions after a midnight strike in Ukraine's northeast killed five people in an apartment building, authorities said.

Cross-firing escalates

Ukraine has also struck targets in Russian territory deep behind the front line, and a fire broke out at an oil depot in Russia's Kursk region after an attack by a Ukrainian drone without causing any casualties, said Roman Starovoit, the governor, on Thursday. 

The Russian missiles used on Thursday included Iskander ballistic missiles, Kalibr cruise missiles, guided aviation missiles and adapted S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. The Russian bombardment came a day after Ukraine's military said it used high-tech naval drones to sink a Russian navy ship in the Black Sea, in what would be a significant success for Ukraine days before the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022. 

In Lviv, two schools, a kindergarten and 18 residential buildings were damaged, injuring three people, Mayor Andrii Sadovyi said. In response to the long-range attacks, neighbouring Poland's army said it has taken steps to ensure the safety of the country's airspace.

Ukraine attacks undermine Putin's assurances

Despite an all-out effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to defeat Ukraine, Kyiv has managed to give a tough fight to Moscow nearly two years after the invasion, despite a failed counteroffensive last year. Ukraine's attacks have undermined Putin's attempts to reassure Russians that life in Russia is largely going on as normal.

Frequent Russian long-range bombardments are occurring as the almost two-year war has become bogged down in mostly trench and artillery warfare, which is destructive but is not bringing much change to the 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front line.

Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due in France on Friday to sign a bilateral security agreement as part of his efforts to ensure continuing Western military support. He says that one of his priorities is improving Ukraine's air defense systems. Zelenskyy's office announced he would also travel on Friday to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Putin's suggestion for ceasefire in Ukraine allegedly rejected by US, Kremlin denies claim

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