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Russian Authorities Accuse Ukraine of Conducting Missile Attack on Civilians in Belgorod

By Vusala Abbasova December 31, 2023

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The Belgorod region, situated adjacent to northern Ukraine, has experienced ongoing shelling and drone attacks throughout the year, attributed to Ukraine by Russian authorities.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian armed forces launched missile attacks on the Russian border city of Belgorod, resulting in the deaths of 24 civilians, including three children, according to Russian sources.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, describing it as one of the deadliest attacks on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, provided the latest toll.

“Forensic experts determined that another child had perished,” Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote in his Telegram channel. “Another wounded man passed away in the hospital without regaining consciousness.”

The Belgorod region, situated adjacent to northern Ukraine, has experienced ongoing shelling and drone attacks throughout the year, attributed to Ukraine by Russian authorities. However, this recent assault stands out as one of the single deadliest incidents reported, leaving 108 people injured and causing extensive damage to residential and social infrastructure.

“Doctors are providing the victims with all the necessary assistance. Various destructions were detected in 37 apartment buildings, 453 apartments, 3 private households, and 7 social facilities. The owners of 53 damaged cars have been identified,” added Gladkov.

According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed about the attack in Belgorod and gave the order to send rescuers from the emergencies ministry and a health ministry team to the city to assist those affected.

No official comment has been issued by Kyiv, but an unnamed security service source quoted by Ukrainska Pravda blamed the destruction on “unprofessional actions by Russian air defense, as well as deliberate and planned provocations.”

The missile attacks on Belgorod occurred shortly after Russia launched its largest aerial assault on Ukraine since the conflict began in 2022.

During an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council requested by Moscow, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, accused Ukraine of conducting a “terrorist attack” on civilians in Belgorod and using widely prohibited cluster munitions.

In the aftermath of the Belgorod attack, Ukrainian authorities reported that two Russian S-300 missiles hit the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, injuring 21 people, including two boys aged 16 and 14. The Kharkov regional prosecutor’s office revealed extensive damage to a hotel, apartment buildings, a kindergarten, administrative buildings, shops, restaurants, shopping pavilions, and people’s cars.

Russia, in turn, claims that it hit decision-making centers and military facilities in Kharkov used by the “Kiev regime” in response to the “Ukrainian terror attack on Belgorod.” Russia’s statement said its attack hit the former Kharkiv Palace hotel and the headquarters of the Ukrainian Security Service for the Kharkiv region.

The current war began when Russia’s troops entered Ukraine, claiming it was protecting the people of two self-proclaimed separatist-controlled regions of Ukraine allegedly being attacked by the Ukrainian military.

Russia launched the offensive in multiple directions, targeting the northern, eastern, and southern regions in an attempt to swiftly cripple the defense lines of the Ukrainian army. However, the Russian army’s blitzkrieg tactics were unsuccessful due to the resilient resistance of Ukraine’s military and civilians throughout the country.