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Russian forces ‘shoot down drones after cross-border attack’

Russian forces ‘shoot down drones after cross-border attack’

Russian forces have shot down “a large number” of drones in the southern Belgorod region, a local official has claimed.

The drones were intercepted overnight over the province, Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram post.

He said that no one had been hurt but administrative buildings, residential buildings and cars were damaged.

Russia said the previous day that its forces beat back one of war’s most serious cross-border attacks, with the Defence Ministry saying that more than 70 attackers were killed in a battle in Belgorod that lasted around 24 hours. It made no mention of any Russian casualties.

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

Twelve local civilians were wounded in the attack, officials said, and an older woman died during an evacuation.

Details of the incident in the rural region about 45 miles north of the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, and far from the front lines of the almost 15-month war, are unclear.

Moscow blamed the incursion that began on Monday on Ukrainian military saboteurs.

Kyiv described 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. Moscow officials declined to say how many attackers were involved in the assault or comment on why efforts to put down the attackers took so long.

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

Elsewhere, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Wednesday that “heavy fighting” is continuing inside Bakhmut, days after Russia said that it completely captured the devastated city.

Bakhmut lies in Donetsk province, one of four provinces Russia illegally annexed last autumn. The nine-month battle for Bakhmut has killed tens of thousands of people as Ukraine pursues its strategy of grinding down the Kremlin’s invasion forces.

The head of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said that Kyiv’s forces “are continuing their defensive operation” in Bakhmut, and have attained unspecified “successes” on the city’s outskirts.