Russia says it thwarted Ukrainian 'invasion' attempt

AFP , Thursday 1 Jun 2023

Moscow said Thursday it thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to "invade" its southwestern border as Russia pounded Kyiv with missiles, killing three including a child.

A damaged armored military vehicle is seen after fighting in Russia s western Belgorod region on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. AP


The Ukrainian capital faced nearly nightly air raids in May, including an unusual daytime attack on Monday that sent residents running for shelter.

As Kyiv launched air defences against a fresh volley of Russian ballistic and cruise missiles, Moscow said it thwarted an attempt by Ukrainian troops to "invade" its southwestern Belgorod region.

"At about 3:00 am (0000 GMT), Ukrainian units comprising up to two motorised infantry companies, reinforced with tanks, attempted to invade," the Russian defence ministry said.

Moscow used jets and artillery to repel the attacks and prevent Ukrainian troops from crossing over into Russia, it added.

Earlier in the day regional authorities said that eight people were wounded in the Belgorod region in an attack blamed on Ukrainian troops.

Moscow's latest attack on Kyiv began just before 3:00 am local time when cruise and ballistic missiles were fired from Russia's Bryansk region.

Ukraine's air force said it intercepted and destroyed all 10 ballistic and cruise missiles launched by Russia.

Three people, including a nine-year-old child, were killed in Kyiv's northeastern Desnyanskyi district as a result of falling rocket fragments. Another 16 people were wounded.

- 'Screams and dust' -

The husband of one of the victims, Yaroslav Ryabchuk, said the shelter where they routinely hid from Russian strikes was closed on Thursday, and he ran to seek help.

"When I came back there was a lot of blood, children and women were lying there. There were screams and dust," he told AFP.

"Nothing matters any more," he said, adding his children have been "left without a mother."

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko confirmed the three people were killed when "a fragment of rocket" fell close to a clinic as they ran for cover after an air raid alert.

"A closed shelter in wartime is not just indifference, it is a crime," said Interior Minister Igor Klymenko, adding that an investigation had been opened.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has slammed Russia's attempts to "terrorise" the civilian population.

Moscow claims that it targets military installations in Ukraine only.

Russia says it has been evacuating hundreds of children from border villages due to intensifying attacks.

The governor of Bolgorod said residents evacuated from the town of Shebekino after heavy shelling were filling up temporary shelters in the regional capital.

- 'Quite alarming' -

"So all arriving residents of Shebekino are being sent in an organised manner to the remaining centres for displaced people," Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram on Thursday.

The strikes have come as Kyiv says it is preparing for a major offensive against Moscow's forces. On Tuesday, Moscow experienced an unprecedented drone attack.

"The situation is quite alarming," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

On Tuesday, the Russian foreign ministry accused the West of "pushing the Ukrainian leadership towards increasingly reckless acts" after the Moscow drone attack.

At least three buildings were lightly damaged, including two high-rise residential buildings in Moscow's affluent southwest.

Ukraine denied any "direct involvement".

In the United States, the Pentagon announced a new $300 million arms package for Ukraine, including air defence systems and tens of millions of rounds of ammunition.

The United States said it did not support any attack inside Russia and was instead providing Kyiv with equipment and training to reclaim its territory.

These aid shipments will bring the total value of US security assistance to Ukraine to $37.6 billion since Russia's February 2022 invasion, the Defense Department said.

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