By Valentyn Ogirenko and Guy Faulconbridge KYIV/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday it had repelled more cross-border attacks from Ukraine while its relentless aerial assaults on Kyiv killed another three people including a nine-year-old girl and her mother locked out of an air raid shelter. Both sides are trying to sap morale and weaken […]
Russia says it repels border incursion, Kyiv hit kills three
By Valentyn Ogirenko and Guy Faulconbridge
KYIV/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday it had repelled more cross-border attacks from Ukraine while its relentless aerial assaults on Kyiv killed another three people including a nine-year-old girl and her mother locked out of an air raid shelter.
Both sides are trying to sap morale and weaken military capacity ahead of a long-promised Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russia’s 15-month-old invasion.
The war has killed tens of thousands of people, uprooted millions, shattered Ukrainian cities, and brought increasing attacks on Russian soil.
Russia’s defence ministry said its troops thwarted three attempted incursions near the western town of Shebekino, killing 30 Ukrainian fighters and destroying four armoured vehicles.
Earlier, the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), a far-right paramilitary group of ethnic Russians that supports Ukraine, had said it was fighting inside Russia. Kyiv denies direct involvement but Moscow accuses it of masterminding the raids.
The Belgorod region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said Ukraine’s armed forces had repeatedly shelled Shebekino with Soviet-designed Grad 122mm rockets, setting alight a dormitory and damaging an administrative building.
At least nine civilians were injured, he said, with hundreds of children, women and elderly being evacuated. Unverified video showed a fire at a large building in Shebekino.
‘NO ONE OPENED SHELTER’
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 died when rocket debris fell near an air raid shelter they had been trying to enter.
“The entrance was closed, there were already maybe five to 10 women with children,” local resident Yaroslav Ryabchuk said. “They knocked loudly enough … They tried to enter the shelter, no one opened up for them. My wife died.”
Russia denies targeting civilians or committing war crimes but its forces have devastated Ukrainian cities and repeatedly hit residential areas since the Feb. 24, 2022 invasion.
ZELENSKIY RALLIES EUROPE
President Vladimir Putin’s government claims to have annexed parts of east and south Ukraine in a “special military operation” to “denazify” its neighbour, protect Russian speakers and defend its borders from aggressive Western ambitions.
Kyiv and its Western allies accuse Putin of a barbaric invasion and imperialist-style land grab in Ukraine, which was long dominated by Russia within the Soviet Union before its break-up in 1991.
At a European summit in Moldova, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pressed his case for Ukraine to be part of the NATO military alliance and reiterated his appeal for Western fighter jets to bolster his army.
“You supported our people, our refugees who fled in the first days of the war, and we will never forget it,” Zelenskiy told his host, Moldovan President Maia Sandu. “Our future is in the EU. Ukraine is ready to join NATO.”
Zelenskiy said Kyiv had not yet set a date for a proposed peace summit in July, because it was working to try and bring as many countries as possible to the table.
Several locations in Scandinavia have been mooted with Denmark offering to host a meeting. There is also a possibility of staging it in Lithuania before a NATO heads of state meeting there on July 10-11, a European diplomatic source said.
Ukraine says only a full Russian withdrawal will end the war.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Felix Light, Valentyn Ogirenko, Olena Harmash, John Irish and Andrew Gray; writing by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Ros Russell and Mark Heinrich)