The authorities in the Russian border region of Belgorod have reported a major Ukrainian attack with several deaths. Twelve adults and two children were killed in the shelling of the center of the regional capital of the same name, Belgorod, Russia's civil defense agency said on Telegram.
Another 108 people, including 15 children, were injured. The information could not initially be independently verified. Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram that mass New Year events would be canceled because of the attack.
There was initially no official reaction from Kiev. The newspaper "Ukrainskaya Pravda" only wrote, citing an anonymous Ukrainian intelligence source, that the Ukrainian army had targeted Russian military objects. Civilians were harmed due to "unprofessional actions by the Russian air defense as well as deliberate and planned provocations."
Meanwhile, in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin instructed Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko to fly with a team to Belgorod. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said this to journalists, according to the Interfax agency.
In the meantime, people in Belgorod were asked to hide in shelters. At the same time, there were complaints from residents that several air raid shelters were apparently cordoned off and therefore inaccessible.
Videos also circulated on social networks showing numerous columns of smoke, burning cars and damaged house facades. In some recordings, the sounds of explosions and people screaming could also be heard. According to media reports, this was the heaviest shelling of Belgorod since Russia invaded Ukraine almost two years ago.
Belgorod is located in the border region and is therefore repeatedly affected by fighting. However, the damage and number of victims are generally disproportionate to those in Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia. It was only on the night of last Friday that Russia launched its heaviest attack to date on the neighboring country. According to official Ukrainian information, at least 39 people were killed.