Six killed, 18 injured by missile strike in Russian city of Belgorod

In this photo provided by Kharkiv regional Governor Oleh Sunyiehubov, firefighters examine the site of Russia's missile attack that hit an apartment building in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb.15, 2024. (Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Sunyiehubov Office/ via AP)
In this photo provided by Kharkiv regional Governor Oleh Sunyiehubov, firefighters examine the site of Russia's missile attack that hit an apartment building in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb.15, 2024. (Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Sunyiehubov Office/ via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- A missile strike Thursday on the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukraine border killed six people, including a child, and injured 18 others, a Russian official said. It was the latest in exchanges of long-range missile and rocket fire in Russia's war on Ukraine.

Hours earlier, Russia fired two dozen cruise and ballistic missiles at a broad area of Ukraine, hitting multiple regions after a midnight strike in Ukraine's northeast killed five people in an apartment building, authorities said.

Five of the 18 people injured in Belgorod, a city of around 340,000 people, were children, regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram. Tass news agency reported that 15 people were hospitalized.

A shopping center and a school stadium were hit in Belgorod, according to Roman Starovoit, the governor of Russia's Kursk region, which is next to Belgorod. "There are many casualties: dead and wounded," he said on Telegram.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said air defense systems destroyed 14 missiles over the Belgorod region that were launched by Ukraine using a RM-70 Vampire multiple launch rocket system.

Belgorod city, 25 miles north of the Ukrainian border, has been a regular target of Ukrainian fire, putting its residents on edge. Dozens of people were killed and injured in an attack there over Russia's New Year holiday weekend.

Those assaults have undermined President Vladimir Putin's attempts to reassure Russians that life in the country is largely going on as normal.

In Ukraine, five people were killed and 10 were wounded in the nighttime attack on the village of Velykyi Burluk, in the Kharkiv border region, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said.

Hours later, missiles the targeted the capital Kyiv, the southern Zaporizhzhia region and Lviv in western Ukraine, among other places. The Ukrainian air force said it intercepted 13 of the 26 missiles fired across the country.

Frequent Russian long-range bombardments are occurring as the almost two-year war has become bogged down in mostly trench and artillery warfare, which is destructive but is not bringing much change to the 930-mile front line.

Thursday's salvos on Ukraine were notable for the geographic spread of its targets and the wide variety of missiles deployed by the Kremlin's forces.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says one of his priorities is improving Ukraine's air defense systems. He is due today in France to sign a bilateral security agreement as part of his efforts to ensure continuing Western military support.

Zelenskyy's office announced he would also travel today to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

On Saturday, Zelenskyy will give a speech at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. He also is to hold bilateral meetings there with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and some European leaders as well as heads of major corporations.

The Russian missiles used Thursday included Iskander ballistic missiles, Kalibr cruise missiles, guided aviation missiles and adapted S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

Ukraine has also struck targets in Russian territory deep behind the front line. A fire broke out at an oil depot in Russia's Kursk region after an attack by a Ukrainian drone, Starovoit, the governor, said Thursday. There were no casualties, he said.

The Russian bombardment came a day after Ukraine's military said it used high-tech naval drones to sink a Russian navy ship in the Black Sea, in what would be a significant success for Ukraine days before the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

The Thursday morning barrage injured four people in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where public infrastructure was hit, officials said. Explosions were also heard in Kyiv.

In Lviv, two schools, a kindergarten and 18 residential buildings were damaged, injuring three people, Mayor Andrii Sadovyi said.

In response to the long-range attacks, neighboring Poland's army said it has taken steps to ensure the safety of the country's airspace.

"All necessary procedures to ensure the safety of Polish airspace have been launched. ... We warn that Polish and allied aircraft have been activated, which may result in increased noise levels, especially in the south-eastern part of the country," the army's Operational Command said in a statement.

photo In this photo provided by Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office, firefighters examine the site of Russia's missile attack that hit an apartment building in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office/ via AP)
photo In this photo provided by Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office, firefighters examine the site of Russia's missile attack that hit an apartment building in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office/ via AP)
photo In this photo provided by Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office, firefighters examine the site of Russia's missile attack that hit an apartment building in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office/ via AP)
photo In this photo released by Belgorod region governor Vyacheslav Gladkov's telegram channel on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, firefighters stand at a damaged building in Belgorod, Russia. Officials say a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukraine border has killed five people, including a child, and injured 18 others, in what appears to be the latest exchange of long-range missile and rocket fire between the two countries. (Belgorod region governor Vyacheslav Gladkov telegram channel via AP)
photo A damaged building following a strike in Belgorod, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. Officials say a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukraine border in what appears to be the latest exchange of long-range missile and rocket fire between the two countries. (Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov telegram channel via AP)
photo A damaged building following a strike in Belgorod, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. Officials say a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukraine border in what appears to be the latest exchange of long-range missile and rocket fire between the two countries. (Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov telegram channel via AP)

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