Russia’s air defence downs four missiles in Belgorod region

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March 13 (Reuters) – At least one person was wounded in the southern Russian region of Belgorod on Monday after Russian forces shot down four missiles over the region and its administrative centre Belgorod, the governor of the region bordering Ukraine said.

“At this time one person is known to have been injured,” Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on the Telegram messaging app. “There is also damage from rocket debris in two residential buildings.”

He did not say who he thought had fired the missiles but in the past he has accused Ukrainian forces on the other side of the nearby border of similar attacks.

Belgorod borders Ukraine’s Kharkiv region and has repeatedly come under fire since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia and on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.

In Other Developments

FIGHTING IN BAKHMUT, KHERSON

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russian forces had suffered more than 1,100 dead in the past few days fighting along the Bakhmut section of the frontline. Russian forces also sustained 1,500 “sanitary losses” – soldiers wounded badly enough to keep them out of further action, he added.

* Ukrainian forces faced relentless Russian attacks on Bakhmut in its eastern Donetsk region, with both sides reporting mounting enemy casualties as they battled across a small river that bisects the ruined town and now marks the front line.

* Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday its forces had killed more than 220 Ukrainian service members over the past 24 hours in the Donetsk direction.

* The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force, which has led the assault on Bakhmut, said his army will begin to reboot once the city was captured. “In particular, we will start recruiting new people from the regions,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a clip posted on Telegram channels associated with Wagner.

GRAIN DEAL

* Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said he believes that a deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported via the Black Sea will be extended from its current March 18 deadline.

* Russia’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that Russian representatives had not yet taken part in negotiations on extending the Black Sea grain deal.

CHURCH, DIPLOMACY, WEAPONS

* Ukraine’s punitive actions against a branch of the Orthodox church linked to Russia are part of a drive to achieve “spiritual independence”, Zelenskiy said. Ukrainian leaders have accused the long-established Ukrainian Orthodox Church of undermining Ukrainian unity and collaborating with Moscow.

* Ukraine’s foreign minister urged Germany in an interview published on Sunday to speed up supplies of ammunition and to start training Ukrainian pilots on Western fighter jets.

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