Strikes kill four in Ukraine as hundreds evacuate Russian border city

Kyiv, Ukraine - A wave of Russian strikes killed four people across Ukraine on Monday, officials said, as authorities in the Russian border city of Belgorod evacuated hundreds due to Ukrainian shelling.

Four people were killed by Russian strikes across Ukraine on Monday.
Four people were killed by Russian strikes across Ukraine on Monday.  © SERGEY BOBOK / AFP

As the war approaches its second anniversary, both Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of causing dozens of civilian casualties in a sharp escalation of attacks.

"This morning, unfortunately, began again with a massive missile attack," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily address.

"Forty-five people were injured, and at this time, we know of four dead," he said.

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Russian missiles hit a shopping center and high-rise buildings in Zelensky's hometown of Kryvyi Rig, killing one person, deputy head of the presidency Oleksiy Kuleba said.

A separate missile attack in the western region of Khmelnytsky killed two people, officials said, while an elderly woman in the Kharkiv region died after being pulled from the rubble of her home.

Moscow said in its latest defense ministry briefing that it had struck only "military" targets. Bolstered by Western air equipment, Ukraine's defense forces had been destroying most of the drones and missiles that Russia launched in regular aerial strikes. But it downed just 18 out of 51 missiles on Monday.

"A large number of ballistic missiles were launched today... Many said the rate (of destroyed missiles) is not very high," Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat acknowledged.

But air defense achieved "a good result," Ignat said, with all drones destroyed and some Russian missiles also missing their targets.

Ukraine has warned it needs continued support to sustain its air defense systems amid the escalation in aerial attacks.

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Russia has vowed to intensify strikes against Ukraine as the conflict approaches its second anniversary.
Russia has vowed to intensify strikes against Ukraine as the conflict approaches its second anniversary.  © SERGEY BOBOK / AFP

Russia has also seen renewed assaults.

After downing two drones over the border region of Bryansk on Monday, Russian forces destroyed 10 Ukrainian rockets over the region of Belgorod in the evening, the defense ministry said.

The Belgorod region has been particularly targeted recently, with waves of deadly strikes that prompted evacuations.

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"Ten targets were shot down as they approached the city," regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said, reporting that three people had been wounded by shrapnel.

Gladkov earlier said 300 people had been relocated from the border city of Belgorod because of Ukrainian shelling.

This is the biggest evacuation from a major Russian city since the conflict began. The residents who decided to leave are being housed in temporary accommodation in the towns of Stary Oskol, Gubkin, and the Korochansky district, further from the border, Gladkov said.

"Over the past 24 hours, we received 1,300 requests to send Belgorod children to school camps away from the city in other regions," he added.

The Kremlin has tried to maintain a semblance of normalcy on the home front, but recent strikes on Belgorod have brought conflict in Ukraine closer to home for many Russians.

On December 30, Ukrainian shelling of the city killed 25 people, prompting schools to shut for an extended period.

Moscow vowed to intensify strikes on Ukraine in response to the attack, the deadliest in Russia since the start of the war in February 2022.

Cover photo: SERGEY BOBOK / AFP

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