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Russia accuses Kyiv of ‘terrorist’ attack on Belgorod civilians

MOSCOW — Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out a “terrorist attack” Saturday on civilians in the city of Belgorod, including using controversial cluster munitions in the strikes that killed at least 21 and wounded dozens more.

Moscow said the attack — which followed waves of rocket and drone attacks by Russian forces on Ukrainian cities — would “not go unpunished”.

In an emergency meeting at the UN Security Council demanded by Russia, envoy Vasily Nebenzya claimed Kyiv targeted a sports centre, an ice rink and a university.

“In order to increase the number of casualties of the terrorist attack they used cluster munitions,” he said.

“(It was a) deliberate, indiscriminate attack against a civilian target.”

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky were due to give New Year’s Eve speeches Sunday, as the conflict approaches its second anniversary in February.

The Belgorod attack came a day after Ukraine said a barrage of Russian missile strikes on several cities killed at least 39 people, wounding dozens more.

Fresh strikes Saturday caused more casualties in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials said.

Belgorod lies about 30 kilometres from the border with Ukraine and has been repeatedly struck by what Moscow says is indiscriminate shelling by Kyiv’s forces.

Unverified footage showed a street strewn with debris and smoke billowing from burnt-out cars in the city’s centre.

AFP was not able to immediately verify the circumstances of the strike, one of the deadliest on Russian soil since Moscow launched hostilities against Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia authorities said the death toll included at least three children, with 17 children among the 110 wounded.

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