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Ukraine updates: Russia decries 'terrorist' Belgorod strike

Published December 30, 2023last updated December 30, 2023

Moscow has called a UN Security Council session over the deadly bombing of Russia's border city of Belgorod. Ukraine is still reeling from an earlier air attack launched by Russia. Follow DW for more.

Firefighters extinguish burning cars after shelling in Belgorod, Russia, on December 30, 2023
Kyiv's military targeted the Russian city of Belgorod a day after Russia launched a massive air assault on Ukrainian citiesImage: Russia Emergency Situations Ministry via Telegram/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Russia on Saturday said 14 people, including two children, had been killed and 108 injured in "indiscriminate" Ukrainian strikes on the southwestern Russian city of Belgorod.

Moscow alleged that the assault included cluster bombs, but it was not possible to independently verify the claim.

The Kommersant newspaper said missiles fired from a rocket launcher in Ukraine's Kharkiv region had hit a skating rink, a shopping mall, residential buildings and a car.

Moscow demanded an urgent session of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the attack.

The strikes on Belgorod come after Russia launched a massive air assault on Ukrainian cities on Friday, killing at least 39 people. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sharply condemned the Russian attack and said it was "important that the world responds to this terror."

Zelenskyy said Russia used "nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal."

More than 160 people were injured and scores of houses and multistory apartment buildings were destroyed. Hospitals, schools and other facilities were also destroyed.

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You can find DW's full coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine here

These were updates developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Saturday, December 30:

Skip next section Moscow demands UN Security Council session after Belgorod attack
December 30, 2023

Moscow demands UN Security Council session after Belgorod attack

Russia has called for a special session of the United Nations Security Council following the Ukrainian attack on the city of Belgorod.

"The terrorist attack on Belgorod will be the subject of proceedings in the UN Security Council," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

"Behind the terrorist attack is Great Britain, which, in coordination with the United States, is inciting the Kyiv regime to terrorist actions, as it has recognized that the Ukrainian armed forces' counteroffensive has failed," Zakharova was further quoted as saying by the state news agency TASS.

At least 14 people died and more than 100 were injured in the Ukrainian rocket attack, Moscow said, which appeared to be retaliation for a barrage of Russian missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian cities the previous day that killed at least 39 people.

Skip next section Russian Defense Ministry says 'indiscriminate' Belgorod attack 'will not go unpunished'
December 30, 2023

Russian Defense Ministry says 'indiscriminate' Belgorod attack 'will not go unpunished'

Russia's Defense Ministry said Ukrainian missiles and rockets hit the Belgorod region near the border, decrying the attack as "indiscriminate."

The attack used two Olkha missiles and Vampire rockets, the ministry said in a statement on the Telegram messaging platform. It killed 14, including two children, and injured over 100 others. Separately, a Russian official said over a dozen children were among the injured and several were still in critical condition.

Moscow said the missiles and most of the rockets were intercepted by air defense systems, but some rocket fragments and cluster ammunition fell on Belgorod. Russian officials added that "the consequences would have been immeasurably more severe" if the missiles had hit the city directly.

The ministry vowed that "this crime will not go unpunished."

The attack comes after continued Russian bombardment of Ukrainian cities the previous day.

Skip next section Over a dozen killed in Ukrainian strikes on Belgorod, Russia says
December 30, 2023

Over a dozen killed in Ukrainian strikes on Belgorod, Russia says

Ukrainian strikes on the Russian provincial capital of Belgorod on Saturday left fourteen people killed, including two children, the Russian Defense Ministry said on the Telegram messaging platform.

The strikes hit a residential area, Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in an separate statement on Telegram. He urged all residents to move to air raid shelters as sirens sounded around the city.

State-run RIA news agencies shared photos depicting at least three cars on fire.

"President Vladimir Putin has been informed about the Ukrainian armed forces' strike on residential neighborhoods in Belgorod," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state-run TASS news agency.

Earlier on Saturday, Russia's Defense Ministry announced downing 32 Ukrainian drones nationwide, including an attack on Belgorod that had killed one person.

Belgorod is a Russian city located close to the Ukrainian border. Russian officials accuse Ukrainian armed forces of repeatedly targeting the city with missiles and drone strikes. Ukraine did not immediately comment on the latest attack.

Skip next section Poland keeps searching for suspected Russian rocket
December 30, 2023

Poland keeps searching for suspected Russian rocket

The Polish army says it is still looking for parts of a suspected Russian rocket that it says violated the country's air space.

"We inform that on December 30...a ground search will be carried out in the Lublin Voivodeship for possible elements of the object that violated Polish airspace yesterday," the Polish army's operational command wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

"The aim of the search is to definitively confirm that no element of the object remains on Polish territory."

Polish military officials say the object disappeared from the country's airspace less than three minutes after it entered Poland from the direction of its border with Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian side and allies have initially confirmed our radar records that the object had left Polish territory," a spokesperson for the operational command told the Reuters news agency.

Some 480 soldiers of the Territorial Defense Force were involved in the search near the city of Zamosc in southeastern Poland.

Poland's Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the Russian charge d'affaires to demand an explanation for the violation of its airspace by a guided missile.

Donald Tusk's pro-EU coalition set to take power in Poland

Skip next section Russia says it downed 32 Ukrainian drones
December 30, 2023

Russia says it downed 32 Ukrainian drones

After Russia's largest air assault on Ukraine since the start of the war, Moscow says it shot down 32 Ukrainian drones over the country early on Saturday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the drones were intercepted over the Bryansk, Oryol, and Kursk regions near the Ukrainian border as well as over Moscow itself.

Officials in the city of Belgorod, which is close to the border with Ukraine, said an attack there had killed one person.

The apparent drone attacks come after waves of Russian attacks on cities across Ukraine left at least 31 people dead and 152 injured. 

Officials in Kyiv described the largest drone and missile attack as the largest the country has seen in the 22-month war.

Skip next section '2023 is ending as it began' UN Security Council hears
December 30, 2023

'2023 is ending as it began' UN Security Council hears

The United Nations Security Council hastily convened Friday to discuss Russia's assault, which Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari called "appalling."

"Tragically, 2023 is ending as it began — with devastating violence against the people of Ukraine," he said, and noted that international humanitarian law forbids attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Most council members, including the US, France and the UK, condemned the attacks on Ukraine.

Russia's envoy to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said in a lengthy response that Russia had only launched attacks targeting military infrastructure and that Ukraine's air defense systems were responsible for civilian deaths.

The UK ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, slammed the response, saying Russia's actions were the sole cause of the tragedy in Ukraine.

"The rest is a torrent of lies and disinformation," Woodward said of Nebenzya's remarks.

Skip next section Russia's biggest air attack kills at least 30
December 30, 2023

Russia's biggest air attack kills at least 30

At least 30 people were killed and more than 160 injured after Russia launched the biggest air attack on Ukraine since the beginning of it's full-scale invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Almost 160 missiles and drones rained down on multiple cities on Thursday, Zelenksyy said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. 

The massive assault struck Lviv in the west and Kharkiv in the east, Odessa in the south and the capital, Kyiv.

The Ukrainian president sharply condemned the attack, adding: "It’s important that the world responds to this terror." More than 100 houses and 45 multi-story residential buildings were destroyed, as were schools, two churches, hospitals and a maternity ward.

Russia launches large-scale aerial assault on Ukraine

Many commercial and storage facilities were also destroyed in the attacks, with Zelenskyy saying Russia used "nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal" to carry them out.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said the assault showed there should be "no talk of a truce" with Moscow at a time when there was  uncertainty over Western aid to Kyiv.

"Today, millions of Ukrainians awoke to the loud sound of explosions. I wish those sounds of explosions in Ukraine could be heard all around the world," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, urging allies to keep up funding for Ukraine.

Ukraine's air defenses overwhelmed by Russian assault

Skip next section Poland summons Russian diplomat over airspace breach
December 30, 2023

Poland summons Russian diplomat over airspace breach

Poland summoned the Russian charge d'affaires and demanded an explanation after a Russian cruise missile violatedPolish airspace.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it also called for an immediate halt to such activities.

The Polish military said earlier Friday the missile traveled about 40 kilometers (25 miles) over 3 minutes before crossing back in into Ukrainian territory.

Russia's charge d'affaires in Warsaw was later cited as saying that Poland had provided no proof of a border violation by a Russian missile.

"I was handed a note which contained an unsubstantiated claim that allegedly on the morning of 29th December, an airborne object violated Polish airspace, which Polish specialists identified as a Russian guided missile," RIA Novosti news agency quoted diplomat Andrei Ordash as saying.

"No proof was presented. My request for documented proof of what was in the note was refused."

rm/lo (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)