Fri, May 26, 2023 3:56 PM
By SUSIE BLANN, Associated Press
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine came under attack Friday from Ukrainian artillery fire, mortar shells and drones, authorities said, hours after two drones struck a Russian city in an area next to the annexed Crimea Peninsula.
Moscow’s forces, meanwhile, struck a building containing psychology and veterinary clinics in the city of Dnipro, in central Ukraine, killing two people and wounding 30, including two children, Ukrainian officials said.
Video released by regional Gov. Serhiy Lysak showed fire engulfing the three-story building that appeared almost destroyed, with only parts of a wall standing, as firefighters battled the flames.
A Russian S-300 missile hit a dam in the Karlivka district of Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine, threatening nearby settlements with flooding.
The town of Graivoron in Russia's Belgorod region, about 7 kilometers (more than 4 miles) from the Ukrainian border, came under fire for several hours, damaging four houses, a store, a car, a gas pipeline and a power line, Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov reported.
Closer to the frontier, a recreation center, a shop and an empty house were damaged in the village of Glotovo. One woman was wounded when nearby Novaya Tavolzhanka was shelled, Gladkov said.
Earlier this week, the Belgorod region was the target of one of the most serious cross-border attacks from Ukraine since the war began 15 months ago. Details of the raid were murky. Russia blamed the Ukrainian armed forces, but two Russian groups said they were involved, with the aim of bringing down Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Officials in Russia’s southern city of Krasnodar, in the region of the same name bordering Crimea, said two drones struck there. Witnesses told local media they heard something like the sound of a moped and then two explosions.
The blasts smashed a hole in the roof of one building and blew out windows in an apartment building.
“We just went to bed and then there was such a strong, terrible boom,” said resident Tatiana Safonova. “We ran outside. There were people running, but nothing else was going on.”
She said described the sound beforehand “like a growling, noisy moped driving by.”
Krasnodar regional Gov. Veniamin Kondratyev wrote on Telegram that there were no casualties and that some buildings were damaged but essential infrastructure was unharmed.
Krasnodar Mayor Yevgeny Naumov said a residential building and an office building were damaged.
Drone attacks against Russian border regions have been a regular occurrence since the start of the invasion in February 2022, with attacks increasing last month. Earlier this month, an oil refinery in Krasnodar was attacked by drones on two straight days.
At a meeting in Estonia, German and Baltic leaders played down concerns about fighting spilling over into Russia.
“Russia attacked Ukraine, and so Ukraine can defend itself,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. "It is clear that the weapons we have delivered will only be used on Ukrainian territory.”
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas noted that “Ukraine does not have any wish to invade Russia," and Lithuanian Prime Minster Ingrida Simonyte added: "I’m somewhat puzzled by the worry of Russia, because Russia is at war -– so it’s quite strange to think that the war can only be in that other territory that you invaded.”
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Thursday published video that appeared to show a marine drone heading for Russia’s Ivan Khurs reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea. The video didn't show the drone hitting the ship.
The video followed reports by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday that Ukraine had launched an unsuccessful attack on the Ivan Khurs using three unmanned speedboats, with all three destroyed prior to reaching the ship. Moscow released video allegedly showing the destruction of one of the marine drones.
At least two civilians were killed and three others wounded in Russian attacks on Ukraine in the previous 24 hours, the Ukrainian president’s office reported Friday.
Late Friday, officials in the Russian-held sector of Donetsk reported two missile strikes on the city of Mariupol, where a monthslong siege early in the war left much of the city in ruins.
Russia's state news agency Tass cited an unnamed official as saying the missiles were long-range Storm Shadows, which the United Kingdom delivered to Ukraine this month.
In Moscow, China’s special envoy Li Hui met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and they exchanged “opinions on the situation around Ukraine and prospects for resolving the conflict,” according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Lavrov cited “serious obstacles to the resumption of peace talks created by the Ukrainian side and its Western handlers,” the statement said, but it did not disclose what Li said or proposed.
Li visited Kyiv earlier this month. Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s government says it’s neutral and wants to serve as mediator in the conflict, but has supported Moscow politically. Beijing released a proposed peace plan in February, but Ukraine’s allies largely dismissed it, insisting that Russian President Vladimir Putin must first withdraw his forces.
Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, and Elise Morton in London, contributed.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine