Russia-Ukraine crisis

Russia says it repels border incursion, Kyiv hit kills 3


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Russia says it repels border incursion, Kyiv hit kills 3

A woman comforts her daughter inside a shelter during an air raid alert, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 1, 2023.

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Both sides are trying to sap morale and weaken military capacity ahead of a long-promised Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russia's 15-month-old invasion

Russia said on Thursday, June 1, it had repelled more cross-border attacks from Ukraine while its relentless aerial assaults on Kyiv killed another three people including a nine-year-old girl and her mother locked out of an air raid shelter.

Both sides are trying to sap morale and weaken military capacity ahead of a long-promised Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russia’s 15-month-old invasion.

The war has killed tens of thousands, shattered Ukrainian cities and brought increasing attacks on Russian soil.

Russia’s defense ministry said its troops thwarted three attempted incursions near the town of Shebekino in the western region of Belgorod, killing 30 Ukrainian fighters and destroying four armored vehicles.

However, the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), a far-right paramilitary group of ethnic Russians that supports Ukraine, claimed to be fighting inside Russia. “The second phase promised by the RVC’s commander has begun!” it said on Telegram, referring to a previous incursion, alongside images of fighters firing weapons and inside a building.

Kyiv denies direct involvement but Moscow accuses it of masterminding the raids.

The Belgorod region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said Ukraine’s armed forces had repeatedly shelled Shebekino with Soviet-designed Grad 122mm rockets, setting alight a dormitory and damaging an administrative building.

At least nine civilians were injured, he said, with hundreds of children, women and elderly being evacuated. Unverified video showed a fire at a large building in Shebekino.

‘No one opened for them’

In Kyiv, Ukraine said it shot down 10 ballistic and Iskander cruise missiles in Russia’s 18th attack on the capital since the start of May. But a nine-year-old girl, her mother, and another woman died when debris fell near an air raid shelter they had been trying to enter.

“The entrance was closed, there were already maybe five to 10 women with children,” local resident Yaroslav Ryabchuk said. “They knocked loudly enough … They tried to enter the shelter, no one opened up for them. My wife died.”

Condemning the Kyiv deaths, the UN rights monitoring mission in Ukraine said six children were killed and 34 wounded in May alone, with 525 dying since the February 24, 2022 invasion.

Russia denies targeting civilians or committing war crimes but its forces have devastated Ukrainian cities and repeatedly hit residential areas.

President Vladimir Putin’s government claims to have annexed parts of east and south Ukraine in a “special military operation” to “denazify” its neighbor, protect Russian speakers, and defend its borders from aggressive Western ambitions.

Kyiv and its Western allies accuse Putin of barbaric tactics and an imperialist-style land grab in Ukraine, which was long dominated by Russia within the Soviet Union before its break-up in 1991.

Zelenskiy courts world

At a European summit in Moldova, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pressed for Ukraine to be part of the NATO military alliance – but members are divided over how fast that should be.

“It is high time that we actually sit down and find a very concrete answer,” said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, noting that Ukraine had suffered two invasions in 14 years while waiting for NATO accession.

Zelenskiy said Kyiv had not yet set a date for a proposed peace summit, because it was working to try and bring as many countries as possible to the table. Ukraine says only a full Russian withdrawal will end the war.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said its member nations had yet to work out details of how to guarantee Ukraine’s security in the future.

“When the war ends we must ensure we have a framework in place to ensure it is not a pause in Russian actions against Ukraine,” he said in Oslo. “We need to stop the vicious circle of aggression against Ukraine.” –

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