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Russia says it will evacuate 9,000 children from a border region targeted from the Ukrainian side

Ukraine has increasingly used its long-range firepower to hit oil refineries and depots deep inside Russia and has sought to unsettle the Russian border regions, putting political pressure on Putin

Russia-Ukraine conflict
Local residents inspect a damaged car hit by shelling, what local authorities called a Ukrainian military strike, in the Belgorod Region, Russia March 19, 2024.Stringer (REUTERS)

A Russian border region plans to evacuate about 9,000 children from the area because it is being continuously shelled from the Ukrainian side, an official said Tuesday. Kyiv’s forces have increasingly been striking at targets behind the front line that has changed little after more than two years of war.

The children are to be moved further east, away from the Ukraine border, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod border region, Vyacheslev Gladkov, said.

The announcement came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Kremlin wants to create a buffer zone to help protect border regions from long-range Ukrainian strikes and cross-border raids.

Ukraine has increasingly used its long-range firepower to hit oil refineries and depots deep inside Russia and has sought to unsettle the Russian border regions, putting political pressure on Putin. In addition, Ukraine-based Russian opponents of Putin and the Kremlin have launched cross-border raids.

Putin discussed those incursions at a meeting Tuesday with top officials of the Federal Security Service, the FSB. Three people were wounded in an attack Tuesday from Ukraine on the Belgorod region, Gladkov said, including a 14-year-old who had part of a limb amputated. His mother was also seriously hurt in the attack, he said.

The previous day, four members of the same family died in an attack on the Belgorod village of Nikolskoe, according to Gladkov. A grandmother, mother, her partner and 17-year-old son were killed after a missile struck their house, he said. It has not been possible to independently verify either side’s battlefield claims.

Two Ukrainian drones were shot down over Belgorod and another over the neighboring Voronezh region overnight, the Russian defense ministry said. It gave no details of any damage or injuries.

Meanwhile, Russia used S-300 missiles to attack the city of Selydove in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine overnight. Four people were wounded and houses and cars were damaged, the regional prosecutor’s office said.

On Monday, Russian attacks in the Donetsk region killed one person and wounded another, according to Vadym Filashkin, the regional governor.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Ukraine’s Western partners on Tuesday to quickly supply more air defense systems and illustrated the scale of the challenge Kyiv’s forces face. He said Russia has so far this month used 130 missiles of various types, over 320 Shahed drones and nearly 900 guided air bombs to target various regions of Ukraine.

Ukraine has ramped up its own defense industry and plans to reach levels unseen since the country’s 1991 independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to Zelenskiy, but it still relies heavily on Western support, which in recent months has waned.

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