Russia says two killed in Ukrainian shelling and drones hit oil refinery

Ukraine launched attacks on Belgorod and near Moscow as Russians entered the second day of voting in the presidential election.

Destroyed vehicles in Belgorod, Russia, from what local authorities said was Ukrainian shelling [Telegram channel of Governor of Belgorod Region Vyacheslav Gladkov/Handout via Reuters]

Ukrainian shelling in the southern Russian city of Belgorod has killed two people and a drone attack caused a fire at a Russian oil refinery south of Moscow, officials have said, while Russian authorities claimed to have thwarted a new attempt by saboteurs to cross the border.

Saturday’s attacks occurred as Russians entered the second day of voting in a presidential election that is all but certain to extend Vladimir Putin‘s rule by another six years.

A man and a woman died in the attack, and three other people were wounded, regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on the Telegram messaging app.

It marks the latest exchange of long-range missiles and rocket fire in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Five people were also wounded when a Ukrainian drone hit a car in the village of Glotovo, some two kilometres (1.25 miles) from the Ukrainian border, Gladkov said.


Russia’s Ministry of Defence also said Saturday that it had thwarted attempts by “Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups” to enter the country from Ukraine’s Sumy region.

That followed an armed incursion claimed by Ukraine-based Russian opponents of the Kremlin on Tuesday in the Belgorod and Kursk regions.

The Russian Defence Ministry said that Moscow’s military and security forces killed 30 fighters while thwarting the latest incursion.

The Russian Volunteer Corps – one of the groups who claimed to have crossed the border on Tuesday, who say they are “fighting for the freedom of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples” – released a video on social media Saturday claiming to have captured 25 Russian soldiers.

Cross-border attacks in the area have occurred sporadically since the war began and have been the subject of claims and counterclaims, as well as disinformation and propaganda.

Ukrainian drone attacks

A Ukrainian drone attack caused a fire at a Russian oil refinery on Saturday that burned for hours before it was brought under control.

Interfax news agency quoted the emergencies ministry as saying that “open burning” at the Syzran refinery had been halted, but measures were still under way to extinguish it completely.

It was not clear how the fire would affect production at the plant, which has the capacity to process 8.5 million tonnes of crude oil a year, or 170,000 barrels per day.

An attack on another refinery, Novokuibyshevsk, was thwarted on Saturday, the local governor said. Both plants are owned by Rosneft and located in the Samara region southeast of Moscow, some 800km (500 miles) from the nearest Ukrainian-controlled territory.

A Ukrainian drone also dropped an explosive close to a polling station in the Russian-annexed Zaporizhia region of Ukraine, Russian state news agency TASS said. No injuries or damage were reported.

The attacks come a day after a Russian assault on the Ukrainian port city of Odesa killed at least 20 people.

The ballistic missile attack blasted homes in the southern city on Friday, followed by a second missile that targeted first responders who arrived at the scene, officials said.

More than 50 people are still in the hospital following the attacks, Odesa Deputy Mayor Svitlana Bedreha said on Saturday, according to Ukrainian state media.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised a “just response” to the attack in a video address on Friday evening.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies