Russia vows to retaliate after accusing Ukraine of launching missile and drone attacks

30 December 2023, 15:48

Russian officials have accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the Russian border city of Belgorod
Russian officials have accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the Russian border city of Belgorod. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Russia has vowed to retaliate after accusing Ukraine of launching missile and drone attacks in Belgorod.

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It comes a day after an 18-hour aerial Russian barrage across Ukraine killed at least 39 civilians.

Two children were killed in Belgorod, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement. He added that an unspecified number of people were injured.

Images shared on social media appeared to show flames in the heart of the city, with cars on fire and plumes of black smoke rising among damaged buildings.

The Russian ministry of defence released a statement in response, claiming: "The Kyiv regime, which committed this crime, is trying to distract attention from defeats at the front, and is also wanting to provoke us."

It ended saying: "This crime will not go unpunished."

Earlier on Saturday, Moscow officials reported shooting down 32 Ukrainian drones over the country's Moscow, Bryansk, Oryol and Kursk regions.

Read more: UK to send hundreds of air defence missiles to Ukraine as Sunak condemns Putin's revenge attack

Read more: Mystery as British medic, 26, 'found dead in her bed in Ukraine' after serving in war for 18 months

A car destroyed in the shelling
A car destroyed in the shelling. Picture: Alamy

Ukrainian officials never acknowledge responsibility for attacks on Russian territory or the Crimean peninsula, but larger aerial strikes against Russia have previously followed heavy assaults on Ukrainian cities.

Russian drone strikes against Ukraine continued on Saturday, with the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reporting that 10 Shahed drones had been shot down across the Kherson, Khmelnytskyi and Mykolaiv regions.

On Friday, Moscow's forces launched 122 missiles and dozens of drones across Ukraine, with the attack being described by one air force official as the biggest aerial barrage of the war.

There were 39 deaths, at least 160 people were wounded and an unknown number were buried under rubble in the assault, which damaged a maternity hospital, apartment blocks and schools.

Western officials and analysts recently warned that Russia had limited its cruise missile strikes for months in an apparent effort to build up stockpiles for massive strikes during the winter, hoping to break the Ukrainians' spirit.

But Russia's aerial attacks have also sparked concern for Ukraine's neighbours.

Poland's defence forces said on Friday that an unknown object had entered the country's air space before vanishing from radars, and that all indications pointed to it being a Russian missile.

Speaking to Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti Saturday, Russian diplomat Andrei Ordash said: "We will not give any explanations until we are presented with concrete evidence because these accusations are unsubstantiated."

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