Anti-Putin partisans shell Russian town four miles from Ukraine border


Governor of Belgorod says attack injured 12 people, in second partisan assault inside Russia in two weeks
Russian anti-Putin partisans said they were conducting a raid on the town of Shebekino a little over four miles across the Ukrainian border in Belgorod province, the second partisan attack inside Russia in less than two weeks.
The Russian Volunteer Corps, based in Ukraine, said it had shelled the local Russian administrative building, while dramatic footage of a large block with multiple fires on the roof was posted in a local Telegram messenger channel.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the Russian governor of Belgorod oblast, said 12 Russians had been wounded in the fighting while 29 buildings, including a kindergarten, had been damaged amid “numerous artillery shelling” since Wednesday.
The Russian Volunteer Corps, which is led by a prominent nationalist, said it had allowed Russian forces to retreat to the administrative building before targeting it with Grad rockets. A spokesperson for the group added: “Very soon we will see the outskirts of Shebekino.”
Hours earlier, Russia had hit Kyiv in an early morning high-speed missile attack, leaving three dead, including a nine-year-old girl, and 11 injured, according to Ukrainian authorities. Claims also surfaced that one local shelter was not properly open in time for people to flee to safety.
Ukraine said Russia had fired Iskander ballistic and cruise missiles, meaning there was only about five minutes’ warning before they struck, although most of the damage appeared to be from falling debris because the incoming missiles were intercepted by the capital’s air defences.
Thursday is International Children’s Day in many post-Soviet countries and Ukraine accused Russia of engaging in terrorism. Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukraine’s president, released a picture of the dead child’s grandfather sitting next to the youngster’s body, which was covered in foil.
Podolyak tweeted: “Eyewitnesses said that the man was crouching over his granddaughter’s body until one of his neighbors brought him a chair. He can’t move away. He can’t understand. He can’t breathe. He has lost his life.”
The worst affected area was Kyiv’s eastern district of Desnianskyi, where debris fell on a children’s hospital and a block of flats, also damaging two schools and a police station.
A distraught man interviewed on Kyiv television said his wife was one of the victims of Thursday’s attack. He said she had run to a local shelter after an air raid siren went off. But the shelter was closed and she was caught out in the open and struck by falling metal from an intercepted missile.
Officials said that police were investigating, while the head of Desnianskyi district said a guard had opened a central entrance to the shelter, but some people had not been able to get in, possibly because there was so little time to react.
Following the fall of Bakhmut in the eastern Donbas to Russian forces after a year-long battle, the war has shifted towards fresh attacks on civilian centres ahead of a widely anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Russia has resorted to a pattern of near-daily strikes on Kyiv – 17 in May alone – using a mixture of drones, and ballistic and cruise missiles, apparently aimed at demoralising the population and exhausting supplies of anti-aircraft ammunition.
Meanwhile, Russian partisan attacks have stepped up since late May, including a drone raid on Moscow. Ukraine normally denies involvement, although the groups are based in the country.
Although not considered militarily significant, the raids could have a diversionary value that could force Russia to reposition troops inside its own territory.
Western sources said on Thursday that munitions, stocks, and troops trained in close combat and fast infantry manoeuvre are close to being in place at assembly points, allowing Ukraine to launch its counteroffensive within weeks.
They claimed Russia is attenuated across a 1,000km front with strong defensive positions, but its military is without a credible reserve force if there is a breakthrough in their lines.
There is also some evidence that psychological impact of the Ukrainian preliminary shaping operations is having a disturbing impact on Russian political and military relations, with taboos being broken in terms of criticising Russian leaders, the sources added.
An official said: “We are not realistically expecting Ukraine to race through to the Sea of Azov and seize hundreds of kilometres of territory.” The primary aim of the offensive will be to “give Russia significant pause and worry where this might go”.
Gladkov also said that there had been mortar fire aimed at a border village near Grayvoron, about 55 miles west of Belgorod. This was the site of a previous raid in May, where partisan groups briefly claimed to have overrun a border post, killing a guard. Gladkov added that a drone had exploded in Belgorod city, landing in the road and wounding two.
The Kremlin said that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was being kept informed of developments, while the Ministry of Defence added that it had repelled three cross-border attacks near Shebekino, and accused Ukraine of using “terrorist formations” to carry out attempted attacks on Russian territory.