Russia Ukrain War Update

Firefighters hose down a Policlinic following a Russian attack in Dnipro, Ukraine, Friday May 26, 2023. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine via AP)

KYIV,Ukraine–On Friday, Russia’s southern Belgorod region, which shares a border with Ukraine, was reportedly subjected to artillery fire, mortar shells, and drone attacks originating from Ukraine.

This occurred shortly after two drones targeted a Russian city near the annexed Crimea Peninsula.

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In response, Moscow’s forces allegedly carried out an airstrike on a building in the city of Dnipro, located in central Ukraine.

The targeted building housed psychology and veterinary clinics, resulting in the death of two individuals and injuring 30 others, including two children, according to Ukrainian officials.

A video released by regional Governor Serhiy Lysak showed a three-story building engulfed in flames, appearing almost completely destroyed. Firefighters were seen battling the fire as only remnants of a wall remained standing.

In another incident, a Russian S-300 missile reportedly struck a dam in the Karlivka district of Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine, raising concerns about potential flooding in nearby settlements.

The town of Graivoron, located in Russia’s Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border, came under fire for several hours. The attack resulted in damage to four houses, a store, a car, a gas pipeline, and a power line, as reported by Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

In closer proximity to the border, the village of Glotovo experienced damage to a recreation center, a shop, and an empty house. Additionally, one woman was wounded in Novaya Tavolzhanka due to shelling, according to Governor Gladkov’s statement.

Earlier this week, the Belgorod region experienced a significant cross-border attack, which is considered one of the most serious incidents since the conflict began 15 months ago. The exact details of the raid remain unclear.

Russia has attributed the attack to the Ukrainian armed forces, while two Russian groups have claimed involvement, stating that their objective was to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The situation surrounding the attack and the motives behind it are still under investigation.

Officials in Russia’s southern city of Krasnodar, in the region of the same name bordering Crimea, said two drones struck there. Witnesses told local media they heard something like the sound of a moped and then two explosions.

The blasts smashed a hole in the roof of one building and blew out windows in an apartment building.

“We just went to bed and then there was such a strong, terrible boom,” said resident Tatiana Safonova. “We ran outside. There were people running, but nothing else was going on.”

She said described the sound beforehand “like a growling, noisy moped driving by.”

Krasnodar regional Gov. Veniamin Kondratyev wrote on Telegram that there were no casualties and that some buildings were damaged but essential infrastructure was unharmed.

Krasnodar Mayor Yevgeny Naumov said a residential building and an office building were damaged.

Drone attacks against Russian border regions have been a regular occurrence since the start of the invasion in February 2022, with attacks increasing last month. Earlier this month, an oil refinery in Krasnodar was attacked by drones on two straight days.

At a meeting in Estonia, German and Baltic leaders played down concerns about fighting spilling over into Russia.

“Russia attacked Ukraine, and so Ukraine can defend itself,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “It is clear that the weapons we have delivered will only be used on Ukrainian territory.”

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas noted that “Ukraine does not have any wish to invade Russia,” and Lithuanian Prime Minster Ingrida Simonyte added: “I’m somewhat puzzled by the worry of Russia, because Russia is at war -– so it’s quite strange to think that the war can only be in that other territory that you invaded.”

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Thursday published video that appeared to show a marine drone heading for Russia’s Ivan Khurs reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea. The video didn’t show the drone hitting the ship.

The video followed reports by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday that Ukraine had launched an unsuccessful attack on the Ivan Khurs using three unmanned speedboats, with all three destroyed prior to reaching the ship. Moscow released video allegedly showing the destruction of one of the marine drones.

At least two civilians were killed and three others wounded in Russian attacks on Ukraine in the previous 24 hours, the Ukrainian president’s office reported Friday.

Late Friday, officials in the Russian-held sector of Donetsk reported two missile strikes on the city of Mariupol, where a monthslong siege early in the war left much of the city in ruins.

Russia’s state news agency Tass cited an unnamed official as saying the missiles were long-range Storm Shadows, which the United Kingdom delivered to Ukraine this month.

In Moscow, Chinese special envoy Li Hui held a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss the situation in Ukraine and potential solutions to the conflict.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that they exchanged views on the situation and prospects for resolving the conflict.

Lavrov highlighted the “serious obstacles” created by the Ukrainian side and its Western supporters, without providing specific details about Li’s statements or proposals.

Li had previously visited Kyiv earlier in the month as part of China’s efforts to play a neutral role and act as a mediator in the conflict.

However, while China has expressed its desire to support Moscow politically, its proposed peace plan released in February was largely dismissed by Ukraine’s allies, who insist that a prerequisite for peace is the withdrawal of Russian forces from the region.

The stance of China and its involvement in the conflict continue to be closely monitored by international observers.