Russian cruise and ballistic missiles kill 4 in Ukraine and Ukrainian rockets kill 2 in Russian city

By Isaac M February 15, 2024

Russia fired cruise and ballistic missiles at a broad area of Ukraine early Thursday, hitting multiple regions hours after a midnight strike in the country’s northeast killed four people in an apartment building, authorities said.

Meanwhile, inside Russia, officials said Ukraine fired rockets against the border city of Belgorod, where Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said a shopping mall was hit and at least two people were killed.

Air defense systems destroyed 14 rockets over the wider Belgorod region on Thursday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said. It said Ukraine launched them from a RM-70 Vampire multiple launch rocket system around midday local time.

Belgorod city, 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of the Ukrainian border, has been a regular target of Ukrainian fire, putting its residents on edge. Dozens of people were killed and injured in an attack there over Russia’s New Year holiday weekend.

Those assaults have undermined President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to reassure Russians that life in the country is largely going on as normal.

In Ukraine, five people were injured in the nighttime attack on the city of Chuhuiv, in the Kharkiv border region, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said.

Hours later, missiles the targeted the capital Kyiv, the southern Zaporizhzhia region and Lviv in western Ukraine, among other places. The Ukrainian air force said it intercepted 13 of the 26 missiles fired across the country.

Frequent Russian long-range bombardments are occurring as the almost two-year war has become bogged down in mostly trench and artillery warfare, which is destructive but is not bringing much change to the 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front line.

Thursday’s barrage was notable for the geographic spread of its targets and the wide variety of missiles deployed by the Kremlin’s forces.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that one of his priorities is improving Ukraine’s air defense systems. He is due in France on Friday to sign a bilateral security agreement as part of his efforts to ensure continuing Western military support.

Zelenskyy’s office announced he would also travel Friday to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

On Saturday, Zelenskyy will give a speech at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. He also is to hold bilateral meetings there with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and some European leaders as well as heads of major corporations.

The Russian missiles used on Thursday included Iskander ballistic missiles, Kalibr cruise missiles, guided aviation missiles and adapted S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

Ukraine has also struck targets in Russian territory deep behind the front line. A fire broke out at an oil depot in Russia’s Kursk region after an attack by a Ukrainian drone, Gov. Roman Starovoit said Thursday. There were no casualties, he said.

The Russian bombardment came a day after Ukraine’s military said it used high-tech naval drones to sink a Russian navy ship in the Black Sea, in what would be a significant success for Ukraine 10 days before the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

The Thursday morning barrage injured four people in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where public infrastructure was hit, officials said. Explosions were also heard in Kyiv.

In Lviv, two schools, a kindergarten and 18 residential buildings were damaged, injuring three people, Mayor Andrii Sadovyi said.

In response to the long-range attacks, neighboring Poland’s army said it has taken steps to ensure the safety of the country’s airspace.

“All necessary procedures to ensure the safety of Polish airspace have been launched. … We warn that Polish and allied aircraft have been activated, which may result in increased noise levels, especially in the south-eastern part of the country,” the army’s Operational Command said in a statement.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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