Shells Strike ‘Villages’ in Russia; Russia Says It Repels Cross-Border Attacks, Aerial Strikes on Kyiv Kill 3

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In the latest example of the war increasingly spilling into Russia, the Bryansk region came under fire overnight, according to a Russian official. Shells hit two villages close to the border with Ukraine’s Chernihiv and Sumy regions, said the governor.

Another round of shelling struck the Shebekino district in the Belgorod region, where more than 2,500 people were being evacuated. Russian officials have reported intensified attacks from northern Ukraine in recent days.

Over the border, Ukrainian authorities have lifted air raid alerts that sounded across most of the nation overnight, with Kyiv officials saying they shot down more than 30 missiles and drones. Both sides are trying to sap morale and weaken military capacity ahead of a long-promised Ukrainian counter-offensive against the Russian invasion.

Russia said it had repelled more cross-border attacks from Ukraine while its aerial assaults on Kyiv killed another three people including a nine-year-old girl and her mother locked out of an air raid shelter.

The general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Russia had launched 12 missile strikes on targets in Ukraine in the past 24 hours. Russia also mounted 36 air strikes on Ukrainian towns and villages, it said in a Facebook post.

The war has killed tens of thousands, shattered Ukrainian cities, and brought increasing attacks on Russian soil.  Russia’s defence ministry said it had repelled three cross-border attacks near the town of Shebekino, and it accused Ukraine of using what it said were “terrorist formations”.

The Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), a far-right paramilitary group of ethnic Russians that supports Ukraine, claimed to be fighting inside Russia.

Ukraine denies its military is involved in the incursions into Russia’s Belgorod border region and says they are conducted by Russian volunteer fighters.

The Belgorod region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said Ukrainian armed forces had repeatedly shelled Shebekino with Soviet-designed Grad 122mm rockets, setting on fire a dormitory and damaging an administrative building. At least nine civilians were injured, he said, with hundreds of children, women and elderly being evacuated. The unverified video showed a fire at a large building in Shebekino.

Ukrainian authorities warned people across most of the country of possible Russian air raids.

In Kyiv, Ukraine said it shot down 10 ballistic and Iskander cruise missiles in Russia’s 18th attack on the capital since the start of May. But a nine-year-old girl, her mother, and another woman were killed when debris fell near an air raid shelter, they had been trying to enter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly video message, said shelters “must be kept accessible. Never again should we see a repeat of the situation that occurred last night in Kyiv…”

 Condemning the Kyiv deaths, the UN rights monitoring mission in Ukraine said six children were killed and 34 wounded in May alone, with 525 dying since Russia’s invasion.

Russia denies targeting civilians or committing war crimes but its forces have devastated Ukrainian cities and repeatedly hit residential areas.

Kyiv and its Western allies accuse Putin of barbaric tactics and an imperialist-style land grab in Ukraine, which was long dominated by Russia within the Soviet Union before its break-up in 1991.

Zelensky said on Thursday he had received a strong show of support from allies attending a European summit in Moldova on the question of supplying fighter jets to Kyiv to help repel Russian forces. He did not give details.

Zelensky is pressing for Ukraine to be part of the NATO military alliance – but members are divided over how fast that should happen. Western governments are wary of any move that might take the alliance closer to war with Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said its member nations had yet to work out details of how to guarantee Ukraine’s security in the future.

(With inputs from agencies)

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