Published On: Wed, May 24th, 2023
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Explosive dropped on Russian city by drone in ‘hugely embarrassing breach’ | World | News

A drone dropped an explosive device on a road in the Russian city of Belgorod, its Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Tuesday. He said: “An explosive device has been dropped on a road from a UAV in Belgorod. According to preliminary reports, there are no casualties. A car is damaged.”

The attack comes as Ukrainian military saboteurs allegedly raided the Russian city on Monday.

A battle between Russian and Ukrainian military broke out in the region, about 80kilometres (45miles) north of the city of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine.

Russia claims more than 70 Ukrainian attackers were killed as a result.

Kyiv portrayed it as an uprising against the Kremlin by Russian partisans. It was impossible to reconcile the two versions, to say with certainty who was behind the attack or to ascertain its aims.

The region is a Russian military hub holding fuel and ammunition depots and was included in Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s order last year to increase the state of readiness for attacks and improve defences.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to say how many attackers were involved in the assault or comment on why efforts to put down the attackers took so long.

Such cross-border attacks embarrass the Kremlin and highlight the struggles it faces in its bogged-down invasion of Ukraine.

Senior Foreign Correspondent at The Telegraph, Roland Oliphant, said the operation is a “embarrassing” for Putin’s forces.

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He wrote: “I think this is a massive propaganda operation. That’s not to say that I think it’s not happening. I think it’s something meant to be seen; meant to raise morale on the Ukrainian side and sow panic in Russia.

“Obviously, there’ll be efforts to play down the significance of this because they don’t want to be seen as weak and to ignore the fact that the Russian border has been breached in a fairly embarrassing way.

“I’m not sure this is meant to achieve anything enormous militarily, these incursions, but it demonstrates an ability to strike inside Russia. Something that says the war is coming home to you. You are not as safe as you think you are.”

The Belgorod region, like the neighbouring Bryansk region and other border areas, has witnessed sporadic spillover from the war, which Russia started by invading Ukraine in February 2022.

Far from the 1,500-kilometre (932-mile) front line in southern and eastern Ukraine, Russian border towns and villages regularly come under shelling and drone attacks, but this week’s attack is the second in recent months that also appears to have involved an incursion by ground forces. Another difference from earlier cross-border attacks is that Russia‘s effort to repel it continued into a second day for the first time.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed local troops, air strikes and artillery routed the attackers.

“The remnants of the nationalists were driven back to the territory of Ukraine, where they continued to be hit by fire until they were completely eliminated,” Konashenkov said, without providing evidence. He did not mention any Russian casualties.

Russian forces destroyed four armoured combat vehicles and five pickup trucks the attackers used, he said. Local officials alleged the invaders also used drones and artillery.

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said the raid targeted the rural area around Graivoron, a town about five kilometres (three miles) from the border. 12 civilians were wounded in the attack, he said, and an older woman died during an evacuation.

The Russian news portal RBK, quoting unidentified sources in the regional interior ministry and territorial police, said Graivoron came under heavy shelling that lasted about five hours early Monday. After that, tanks fired at the Graivoron border checkpoint while the adjacent village of Kozinka came under mortar and rocket fire, RBK said, citing the same sources. Gladkov later reported that a Koznika villager had been killed.

The attacking force was made up of 10 armoured vehicles and an unspecified number of troops, RBK said.

Earlier Tuesday, the regional governor urged residents who had evacuated not to return home until they received official instructions to do so. He said a “counterterrorism operation” was completed by early Tuesday evening.

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