© Reuters. A view shows a destroyed tank during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine July 1, 2022. REUTERS / Alexander Ermochenko
By Pavel Polityuk, Simon Lewis and Nick Starkov
KYIV/KONSTYANTYNIVKA, Ukraine (Reuters) – At least three people have been killed and dozens of homes damaged by explosions in the Russian city of Belgorod, regional governor said on Sunday. near the Ukrainian border. southern Ukraine.
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported several explosions in the city of nearly 400,000 people, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the border with Ukraine.
Gladkov said at least 11 apartment buildings and 39 houses were damaged, of which five were destroyed.
“The sound was so strong it made me jump, I woke up, very scared and started screaming,” one resident of the city told Reuters, adding that the explosion happened around 3am (0000 GMT).
“The missile hit residential buildings about 20 meters from my house,” the resident said. “All the windows in our house were shattered, the doors didn’t line up.”
Senior Russian lawmaker Andrei Klishas accused Ukraine of shelling Belgorod and called for a stern response.
Klishas wrote on Telegram: “The death of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Belgorod is a direct act of aggression towards the Ukrainian part and requires the most severe response – including including the military”.
Moscow has accused Kyiv of numerous attacks on Belgorod and other areas bordering Ukraine since Russia’s February 24 invasion. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility but has described the incidents as payback and “karma” for Russia’s actions.
There was no immediate comment from Ukraine and Reuters was unable to independently verify the Russian accounts.
In the Russian-occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Ukrainian forces attacked a military base with more than 30 attacks on Sunday, the city’s exiled mayor said in an online video address. Telegram.
Ivan Fedorov said the base was “decommissioned”.
A Moscow official said several private residential houses near the airport had been damaged.
“The bullet fell on the territory of the airport. There were no casualties,” Evgeny Balitsky, head of the Russian-founded council in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, wrote on Telegram.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that its air force carried out about 15 sorties “in almost all directions of hostilities”.
“About 20 units of enemy equipment and two field ammunition depots were destroyed.”
Reuters was unable to verify the account immediately.
Thousands of civilians have been killed and cities razed since Russia invaded Ukraine in what Ukraine’s Western allies see as a gratuitous war of aggression. Russia denies targeting civilians in what President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “demilitarizing” its neighbour.
‘CITY ON FIRE’
Russia is focused on driving Ukrainian forces out of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Kyiv since Russia’s first military intervention in Ukraine. year 2014.
The Ukrainian military described heavy shelling on residential areas, especially around Lysychansk, the last city in Luhansk.
“The Russians are consolidating their positions in the Lysychansk region, the city is on fire,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Telegram. “They attacked the city with inexplicably brutal tactics.”
Rodion Miroshnik, ambassador to Russia of the pro-Moscow Luhansk People’s Republic, told Russian television, “Lysychansk is already under control,” but added: “Unfortunately, it has not yet been liberated.”
Russian media showed video of the Luhansk militia marching on the streets of Lysychansk waving flags and cheering, but National Guard spokesman Ruslan Muzychuk told Ukrainian television that the city remained in Ukrainian hands.
“There are fierce battles going on near Lysychansk, but fortunately the city is not surrounded and is under the control of the Ukrainian army,” Muzychuk said.
Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Russian forces had finally crossed the Siverskiy Donets river and approached the city from the north.
“This is a real threat. We’ll see. I’m not ruling out any one of the outcomes here. Everything will become much clearer within a day or two,” he said.
“The more Western weapons go to the front, the more the picture changes in favor of Ukraine.” Ukraine has repeatedly called for more weapons from the West, saying its forces are being destroyed.
Soldiers during the pause in fighting in Konstyantynivka, a town about 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Lysychansk, said they had tried to keep the supply route to the congested city open at all times. despite Russian bombardment.
“We still use the road because we have to, but it’s within range of the Russian artillery,” said one soldier as his comrades were relaxing nearby, sipping bread or eating ice cream.
“The Russian tactic right now is to just bombard any building that we can locate. When they destroy it, they move on to the next building,” he said.
Away from the fighting to the east, Russia said it attacked army headquarters in Mykolaiv near the key Black Sea port of Odesa, where the mayor reported several powerful explosions on Saturday.
“The Russian occupiers are conducting systematic missile attacks in the direction of Mykolaiv,” the General Staff of Ukraine said on Sunday.
Ukrainian authorities said another rocket hit an apartment complex near Odesa on Friday, killing at least 21 people. A shopping mall was attacked Monday in the central city of Kremenchuk, killing at least 19 people.