Russia accuses Ukraine of 39terrorist39 attack on Belgorod and vows

Russia accuses Ukraine of 'terrorist' attack on Belgorod and vows revenge – The Moscow Times

Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out a “terrorist attack” on civilians in the city of Belgorod on Saturday using, among other things, controversial cluster munitions, killing at least 21 people and wounding dozens more.

Moscow said the attack – which followed waves of missile and drone strikes by Russian forces on Ukrainian cities – “will not go unpunished”.

At an emergency meeting in the UN Security Council called for by Russia, envoy Vasily Nebenzya claimed that Kiev had targeted a sports center, an ice rink and a university.

“To increase the number of victims of the terrorist attack, they used cluster munitions,” he said.

“[It was a] deliberate, indiscriminate attack on a civilian target.

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were scheduled to give New Year's Eve speeches on Sunday as the conflict approaches its second anniversary in February.

The attack in Belgorod came a day after Ukraine said at least 39 people were killed and dozens more injured in a barrage of Russian missiles targeting several cities.

New attacks on Saturday claimed more victims in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian officials.

Belgorod lies about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the border with Ukraine and has been repeatedly bombarded indiscriminately by Kiev's forces, Moscow says.

Unconfirmed footage showed a city center street littered with debris and smoke from burned-out cars.

AFP was unable to immediately verify the circumstances of the attack, one of the deadliest on Russian soil since Moscow began hostilities against Ukraine in February 2022.

“Don’t go unpunished”

According to Russian authorities, at least three children were among those killed and 17 were among the 110 wounded.

The Kremlin said Putin had been informed of the incident, while Russia's Defense Ministry warned the attack “will not go unpunished.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry, which has repeatedly denounced Western arms sales to Ukraine, accused the United States and Britain of “inciting the Kiev regime to commit terrorist actions.”

Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment.

In Ukraine, rescuers continued their search through the rubble on Saturday, a day after Russian attacks killed at least 39 people, one of the worst attacks since the early days of the conflict.

Buildings hit by Friday's bombing, which sparked international condemnation, included schools, a maternity hospital, shopping arcades and apartment blocks.

“Work is still underway to eliminate the consequences of yesterday’s Russian attack,” Zelensky said.

Three more people were killed in Russian attacks across Ukraine on Saturday, local officials said.

And prosecutors said Russian rocket attacks on Kharkiv on Saturday evening wounded 20 people after hitting a number of buildings, including a hotel, a kindergarten, shops and restaurants.

The victims also included a British citizen initially identified as a journalist who was in fact a security adviser to a German media team, the statement added.

January 1 will be declared a day of mourning in the capital Kyiv, where at least 17 people were killed, city officials said.

The Russian army said it carried out “50 group attacks and one major attack” on military facilities in Ukraine last week, adding that “all targets were hit.”

The United Nations condemned the attacks and said they must stop “immediately.”

The missile “entered” Polish airspace.

Poland reported that a Russian missile briefly flew through its airspace during Friday's attacks.

After speaking with Polish President Andrzej Duda, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance stood “in solidarity” with Poland, adding: “NATO remains vigilant.”

In the face of ongoing Russian attacks, Ukraine is calling on its Western allies to maintain their military support.

US President Joe Biden on Friday called on Congress to overcome its divisions and approve new aid for Ukraine after Washington released its latest arms package under existing agreements.

“Unless Congress takes urgent action in the new year, we will not be able to continue sending the weapons and vital air defense systems Ukraine needs to protect its people,” Biden said.

Britain said it would send hundreds more air defense missiles to Kiev after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We must continue to stand with Ukraine – for as long as it takes.”

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