Russia has accused Ukraine of causing explosions which reportedly killed three people in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine on Sunday morning, July 3.
At least 39 houses and 11 blocks of flats were hit in Belgorod, Russian officials say.
Belgorod regional governor said the blasts hit dozens of residential buildings and air defences had been activated.
According to the Kremlin, Sunday’s attack had been a deliberate attempt by Ukrainian forces to target civilians. However, Ukraine’s government has dismissed the claim, saying the Russians had lied about similar incidents in the past.
Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said air defences had destroyed three Ukrainian Tochka-U ballistic missiles with cluster warheads, but fragments of one of them fell on a block of flats.
“This missile attack was intentionally planned and launched at the civilian population,” he added.
Belgorod a city of 370,000 that lies just north of Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv – has been attacked on several occasions since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February.
In early April, Russia said two Ukrainian helicopters had attacked a civilian oil storage depot on the outskirts of Belgorod, causing a fuel blaze.
Video appeared to show missiles hitting the facility. The Ukrainian military denied that it was involved.
Ukrainian defence ministry spokesman Yuriy Sak said that previously “our security service has many times intercepted phone calls between the Russian servicemen which prove that sometimes, most often, these types of activities are… provocations by the Russian side themselves”.
Another Ukrainian official, Serhiy Bratchuk, said rocket debris embedded in a damaged Belgorod apartment block came from a Russian Pantsir anti-aircraft system, which Ukraine does not have
— George A. Hamalian (@gahamalian) July 3, 2022