By Valentyn Ogirenko and Guy Faulconbridge KYIV/MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia said on Thursday 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. Both sides are trying to sap morale and weaken military capacity […]
Russia says it repels border incursion, strikes on Kyiv kill 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 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, shattered Ukrainian cities and brought increasing attacks on Russian soil.
Russia’s defence ministry said it had repelled three cross-border attacks on Thursday near the town of Shebekino, and it accused Ukraine of using what it said were “terrorist formations” to carry out attempted attacks on Russian civilians.
“The selfless actions of Russian servicemen repelled three attacks by Ukrainian terrorist formations,” the Russian ministry said. “No violations of the state border were allowed.”
The Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), a far-right paramilitary group of ethnic Russians that supports Ukraine, claimed to be fighting inside Russia. “The second phase promised by the RVC’s commander has begun!” it said on Telegram, referring to a previous incursion, alongside images of fighters firing weapons and inside a building.
Ukraine denies its military is involved in the incursions into Russia’s Belgorod border region and says they are conducted by Russian volunteer fighters.
Moscow accuses Ukrainian “terrorists” of targeting Russia’s western border. Russian officials say the group of fighters is a proxy run by Ukraine.
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.
AIR RAID SHELTER CLOSED
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.
“The entrance was closed, there were already maybe five to 10 women with children,” resident Yaroslav Ryabchuk said. “They knocked loudly enough … They tried to enter the shelter, no one opened up for them. My wife died.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, 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…”
This was “very clearly” the duty of local authorities “and if this duty is not fulfilled at the local level, it is the direct duty of law enforcement bodies to prosecute”.
Condemning the Kyiv deaths, the U.N. rights monitoring mission in Ukraine said six children were killed and 34 wounded in May alone, with 525 dying since Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, invasion.
Russia denies targeting civilians or committing war crimes but its forces have devastated Ukrainian cities and repeatedly hit residential areas.
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 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.
ZELENSKIY COURTS WORLD
Zelenskiy 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.
Zelenskiy 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.
“It is high time that we actually sit down and find a very concrete answer,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said, noting that Ukraine had suffered two invasions in 14 years while waiting for NATO accession.
Zelenskiy said Kyiv had not yet set a date for a proposed peace summit, because it was working to bring as many countries as possible to the table. Ukraine says only a full Russian withdrawal will end the war.
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.
“When the war ends we must ensure we have a framework in place to ensure it is not a pause in Russian actions against Ukraine,” he said in Oslo. “We need to stop the vicious circle of aggression against Ukraine.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Felix Light, Tom Balmforth, Valentyn Ogirenko, Olena Harmash, Sabine Siebold, Charlotte Van Campenhout, Emma Farge, John Irish and Andrew Gray; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Diane Craft; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Ros Russell, Andrew Heavens and Daniel Wallis)