Russia begins city evacuation as it swaps cross-border strikes with Ukraine


Russia has partially evacuated Belgorod and has requests for further removals following Ukrainian air strikes on the border city.

About 300 residents from the city have been temporarily moved to safety further from the border, Belgorod region’s Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Monday. The evacuation comes as Russia and Ukraine increasingly trade drone and missile strikes.

“Some 300 residents of Belgorod, who decided to temporarily evacuate, are at the moment being housed in temporary shelter centres in Stary Oskol, Gubkin and the Korochansky district,” which are further from the border, Gladkov said in a video posted on Telegram.

Meanwhile, Ukraine reported on Monday that at least four people were killed as Russia launched more than 50 missiles and drones in the early hours.

With the war on the front line in eastern Ukraine bogged down in winter trenches, Russia has concentrated on air strikes against Ukraine’s infrastructure, and what it says are military targets. However, civilian areas have been regularly hit.

In response, Kyiv has begun sending its own drones and missiles at targets in the occupied east, as well as inside Russia itself.

On December 30, 25 people were killed in Belgorod. It was the deadliest civilian toll in Russia since Moscow invaded its neighbour in February 2022.

Ukraine has launched further attacks since, spreading panic in the city, which sits about 30km (19 miles) from the border.

The governor offered residents the option of evacuation on Friday.

“Over the past 24 hours, we received 1,300 requests to send Belgorod children to school camps away from the city, in other regions,” Gladkov said.

Moscow strikes again

Meanwhile, Russia continued its attacks on Ukraine on Monday, hitting residential areas and commercial sites as it launched more than 50 missiles and drones.

At least four civilians were killed and some 30 injured, authorities reported, in the attacks in central and western parts of the country, as well as near the front lines.

Ukraine’s air force said it had shot down 18 out of 51 projectiles overnight, including 32 cruise missiles and eight Iranian-made Shahed drones.

“Critical infrastructure facilities, industrial civilian and military facilities were attacked,” the air force said.

A shopping centre and more than two dozen private buildings were damaged in the southern city of Kryvyi Rih, Governor Serhiy Lysak reported, with one killed.

“The mad enemy once again struck civilians,” Lysak wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “Directed missiles at people.”

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, an industrial site and an educational facility were damaged in at least four missile strikes, Governor Oleh Synyehubov said.

Four people were wounded in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, where Governor Yuriy Malashko reported five explosions and said residential areas had been hit.

Officials in the western Khmelnytskyi region reported at least six blasts but gave no immediate details of the damage. A senior presidential adviser said one person had been killed, according to the Reuters news agency.

All of Ukraine was under air raid alert for more than three hours on Monday.__Al Jazeera