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Russian official: Residents flee Belgorod following attacks

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 6, 2024 7:07 AM 2 min read
Emergency services at work in the Russian city of Belgorod after an attack on Dec. 30, 2023. (Emil Leegunov/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Russia has begun moving residents out of Belgorod in the aftermath of the Dec. 30 attack on the city, Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov claimed on Jan. 5.

A Dec. 30 strike on Belgorod, which lies about 40 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, reportedly killed 25 people and injured over 100. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the strike, which came one day after Russia launched a massive aerial attack against Kyiv.

Gladkov said Belgorod residents were posting pleas for relocation assistance on social media.

"I see several appeals on social media where people write, 'We are scared, help us get to a safe place.' Of course we will! We have already moved several families," Gladkov claimed.

Gladkov said residents seeking relocation would be transported to the towns of Stary Oskol and Gubkin, where they could remain as long as they wished "in warm and safe rooms."

He also said that accommodation centers within Belgorod Oblast would not have the capacity to hold all residents seeking relocation, and that he would contact governors in other oblasts for assistance.

Russia launched an unprecedented number of drones and missiles at Ukraine's major cities in a series of attacks between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2. The attacks killed 39 people and left over 160 more injured.

Several Ukrainian media outlets reported that Ukrainian forces struck military facilities in Belgorod on Dec. 30 in response to the attacks. The reports cited anonymous sources in Ukraine's special services, who said that debris from anti-air munitions fell in the Belgorod city center "due to the unprofessional actions of the Russian air defense."

The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify these claims, nor Russian officials' claims of the extent of the damage and casualties in Belgorod.

A representative of the French Foreign Ministry said on Jan. 3 that Russia "bears full responsibility" for the casualties of the Belgorod strike.

"Russia can put an end to this conflict and the human tragedies that accompany it, for which it bears full responsibility," the official said.  

During an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council held Dec. 31, U.S. official John Kelley said that "ordinary Russian civilians are also bearing the brunt of the Kremlin’s brutal war."

‘Hit the Kremlin’: Kyivans don’t hold back after Russia’s mass attack kills 9, wounds 30 in the capital
Thick columns of smoke were rising in Kyiv after several sites were hit by Russia early on Dec. 29. In Kyiv, Russia hit three locations, according to Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. Local authorities reported nine people killed and 30 injured. Russia unleashed a barrage of 158 attack drones and m…

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