The Russian authorities said on Saturday that a Ukrainian attack on the city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine, had killed at least 14 people and injured more than 100 others, in what appeared to be the deadliest single attack on Russian soil since the beginning of the war.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that Ukraine had hit Belgorod with two missiles and several rockets filled with cluster munitions, adding that the strike was “indiscriminate” and would “not go unpunished.”
The ministry said that most of the rockets had been shot down, but that parts of the debris had fallen on the city. The Ukrainian authorities did not immediately comment on the attack, and Russian claims could not be immediately verified.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, said that a residential area of the city had been hit, and he urged all residents to move to air-raid shelters. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had requested an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the attack, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian state news agency.
Unverified footage of the aftermath of the bombardment published by residents of Belgorod and broadcast by Russian state television showed cars on fire in the streets and huge plumes of smoke rising from buildings in the city.
Saturday’s attack might be in response to Russia’s air assault against Ukraine on Friday, one of the biggest of the war, which killed at least 39 people, wounded about 160 others and hit civilian and military infrastructure. Several Ukrainian news outlets quoted unnamed Ukrainian security and military officials as taking responsibility for the attack on Belgorod, portraying it as a response to the Russian barrage.
Ukraine has said several times that it does not fear taking the war to Russian territory, and has previously targeted the Belgorod region with cross-border strikes and even brief ground assaults by Kyiv-backed, anti-Kremlin Russian fighters.
So far, such attacks have resulted in at least 50 deaths inside Russia, according to the U.N., as well as the evacuation of a few thousand civilians and minor clashes with the Russian military. While the details of Saturday’s attack were not immediately clear, the death toll alone made it noteworthy, shattering the sense of relative normalcy that has prevailed in Russia despite the war and bringing to Russia the kind of suffering that Ukrainians have endured on an almost daily basis for nearly two years.