Monday, March 4, 2024

Several killed, over 100 inured in Ukraine attack on Russia’s Belgorod: Governor

Ukraine's Saturday strike on Belgorod is the “worst” since the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, Belgorod Region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov has said in a Telegram post. In a separate post in the early hours of Sunday, he added that the death toll from the raids has risen to 24.

The shelling also left a total of 108 people injured, the governor wrote on Telegram. The material damage sustained by the city in the strike is still being assessed, Gladkov said, adding that additional public servants from nearby towns had been engaged to speed up this process.

The strike damaged more than 100 vehicles, most of which were “totally destroyed” or burnt, according to Gladkov. A large number of commercial facilities, including shops, stores and malls, were damaged as well, he added. Some gas and water supply systems in the city were also hit, according to the governor.

In a post on Sunday morning, Gladkov wrote that 30 apartment blocks and several houses were damaged.

The regional authorities decided to cancel all public gatherings and festivities in all territories bordering Ukraine, as well as in the city of Belgorod itself, which is located some 40km away from the border, Gladkov said. The governor also informed President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin about the incident and its aftermath.

The Russian Defense Ministry has announced that the attack on the city involved the use of cluster munitions. Such weapons comprise dozens of small submunitions that can be scattered over a large area by an initial detonation, which can then also explode, causing a large number of smaller secondary blasts. More than 110 nations banned them under a UN convention in 2008 due to their grave danger to civilians.

According to the ministry, the Ukrainian military equipped the missiles of its Olkha multiple rocket launcher with cluster bomb warheads before firing them at Belgorod. Russian air defense forces managed to intercept most of the projectiles but some still struck the city. Had all of them reached their target, the consequences would have been “immeasurably more severe”, the ministry added.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday the US, UK, and its allies in the EU bear responsibility for a massive Ukrainian strike on the Russian border city of Belgorod.

“Britain is behind the terrorist act,” Zakharova said in an audio statement, adding that London and Washington “have been inciting the Kiev regime” to commit acts of terrorism amid the failed summer counteroffensive.

“Amid the lack of even the smallest chances to improve the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ miserable situation on the ground, [Washington and London] resorted to the tactics of terrorist attacks against civilians,” Zakharova stated, without providing evidence of the US and UK playing a role in the strike on Saturday.

She added that Russia would raise the issue of Ukraine’s actions at a UN Security Council meeting.

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