Russia and Ukraine exchange air attacks after sinking of Russian warship

By Rob Picheta, Olga Voitovych and Seb Shukla, CNN

Russia and Ukraine exchanged air attacks on Thursday, with Moscow targeting cities across Ukraine and Kyiv striking the Russian border city of Belgorod, one day after Kyiv said it sank another Russian warship off the coast of Crimea.

At least seven people were reported injured after attacks on Kyiv, Lviv and the eastern city of Zaporizhzhia, and infastructure facilities were damaged, in a string of attacks launched by Russia early on Thursday.

Hours later, Russian authorities said five people were killed and 18 injured, in a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod. The regional governor Vyacheselv Gladkov also said that seven homes were damaged.

The city, which sits near the border with northeast Ukraine, has been a hotspot of Russia’s war, as Kyiv looks to bring the conflict home to the Russian people in an effort to dent domestic support for their country’s invasion.

The latest series of strikes follows the damage to Russia’s landing ship Caesar Kunikov, which was attacked with “MAGURA” V5 drones that punctured “critical holes” on its left side before sinking, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency said on Telegram. Russia has not disclosed if there were casualties in that attack.

Russian authorities in Belgorod following Ukraine's attack on the border city.

In Zaporizhzhia, the secretary of the city council, Anatolii Kurtiev, said at least four people had been injured and an infrastructure facility damaged. “It is also currently known that apartment buildings, an educational institution, and the premises of a trade facility were damaged,” he said.

The head of the Lviv regional military administration, Maksym Kozytskyi, said strikes had landed in the city injuring at least three people and causing damage to buildings.

“A hit to an infrastructure facility in Lviv was documented. The fire continues,” he said, adding, “in 16 residential buildings on Naukova Street, part of the windows were blown out by the blast wave, cars parked nearby were damaged.”

In Kyiv, the city military administration said missiles had approached the city from multiple directions but that no significant damage or deaths had been reported.

“The air raid alert in the capital lasted for more than 2 hours.  All enemy missiles flying at Kyiv were destroyed by the forces and means of air defense,” the administration said.

Ukraine’s attack on the warship Wednesday was the latest in a series of Ukrainian strikes on Russia’s navy, as it tries to land both strategic and symbolic blows against Russian forces that annexed Crimea in 2014.

Ukraine claimed last week that they had disabled about a third of Russia’s warships in the Black Sea, amounting to 24 disabled ships and one submarine. The landing ship Caesar Kunikov would be the 25th disabled ship, according to Ukraine’s count.

Ukraine’s strikes on Belgorod on Thursday are the latest in a series of attacks on the city, which has been dragged into Moscow’s conflict.

Ukrainian attacks on Russian regions near the border have continued almost daily for over a year, sometimes resulting in civilian casualties. At the end of last year Russia claimed Ukraine killed 24 people in shelling on Belgorod.

Kyiv is increasingly using drones to level the playing field with Russia. Ukraine’s former top general, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, stressed the importance of drones in a CNN op-ed written earlier this month before he was removed from his post last week by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“It is these unmanned systems – such as drones – along with other types of advanced weapons, that provide the best way for Ukraine to avoid being drawn into a positional war, where we do not possess the advantage,” Zaluzhnyi wrote.

Note: CNN’s Victoria Butenko, Christian Edwards and Alex Stambaugh contributed reporting

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