Twenty-five people have been killed and more than 90 injured in Russia’s border region of Belgorod since the start of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine, the region’s governor told President Vladimir Putin.
“Ukraine, the enemy, is targeting peaceful settlements. There are 25 dead, 96 people were wounded,” governor Vyacheslav Gladkov told Putin in televised remarks.
This is the first time Russian officials have announced an official death toll for a Russian region since the start of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
Gladkov also said around 6,500 people had to be evacuated from border villages and were essentially “refugees.”
Putin praised the regional authorities for “stabilizing the situation.”
The Belgorod region, including the city of the same name, has been repeatedly hit by shelling since Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 last year.
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) December 18, 2022
Russia has also accused Ukraine of carrying out drone strikes at military airfields hundreds of kilometers away from Ukraine’s border.
Following defeats on the ground in Ukraine, authorities in the border regions of Belgorod and Kursk strengthened defense lines.
At the meeting, Putin praised Russia’s weapons.
“Practical combat work has shown that Russia’s air defence is one of the best in the world,” he told the governor.