Russia evacuates children from border villages amid ‘alarming’ situation

June 01, 2023

MOSCOW: Russia said it was evacuating hundreds of children from villages due to intensifying shelling in the border region of Belgorod, where the situation was deemed “alarming” by the Kremlin.Russia has seen stepped-up attacks on its soil over a year into its Ukraine campaign, with an unprecedented incursion last week in the southern region of Belgorod and a drone attack on Moscow on Tuesday.


“We are starting today to evacuate children from the Shebekino and Graivoron districts,” regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram, referring to the most affected border areas.The governor said the first 300 children will be taken to Voronezh, a city around 250-km further into Russia. A correspondent for state-run agency RIA Novosti near Voronezh said buses had arrived with around 150 people on board.

Gladkov said the situation was “worsening” in the village of Shebekino, where he reported more shelling during the day, but without casualties.

He had posted photos of the aftermath of an early morning strike, with blackened burned cars lying in the grass near a playground, and a rocket that had apparently landed on a road. “Nobody, thank God, died,” Gladkov said, adding that the strike injured four people. On Tuesday one person was killed and two others were wounded in a Ukrainian strike on a centre for displaced people in the region. The attacks have come as Kyiv says it is preparing for a major offensive against Moscow´s forces.

“The situation is quite alarming,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked about shelling in the region. “We have not heard a single word of condemnation from the West so far,” Peskov said, adding “measures are being taken.” Several oil depots have been hit in recent weeks. On Wednesday, authorities in the southern Krasnodar region said a drone hit the Ilsky oil refinery, in an area already hit twice since the beginning of May.

The Kremlin has accused Ukraine -- and its Western backers -- of being behind the increasing number of reported attacks. On Tuesday, the foreign ministry said the West was “pushing the Ukrainian leadership towards increasingly reckless acts” after a drone attack on residential areas in Moscow.The Russian defence ministry said that eight drones were used in the attack, adding that five of them were downed and three disabled. At least three buildings were lightly damaged, including two high-rise residential buildings in Moscow´s affluent southwest. Ukraine, which has seen almost nightly attacks on its capital, denied any “direct involvement”.