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The aftermath of a Russian missile strike in Pokrovsk earlier this year. Alamy Stock Photo

Russian strike kills 11 people in eastern Ukrainian town as cross-border exchanges escalate

Russia announced today that it would cancel Orthodox Christmas midnight masses in the city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border.

AT LEAST ELEVEN people, including five children, were killed by a Russian missile strike on the eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk today, the regional governor said.

Eight people were also wounded when Russian forces hit the area with S-300 missiles.

“The main blow was dealt to Pokrovsk and Rivne in the community of Myrnograd”, the head of the Donetsk region, Vadim Filashkin, said on Telegram.

He released photographs showing rescue workers working through the debris of the attack which damaged six houses.

The town of Pokrovsk, which had a population of 60,000 before the war, had already been hit by a deadly bombardment last August, which left nine people dead and 82 injured.

The town is around fifty kilometres from the front line of the fighting.


Both sides have escalated attacks in recent days as the conflict approaches its second anniversary. 

Russian occupation authorities in eastern Ukraine said Ukrainian shelling killed two people today.

“Two people were killed in Makiivka and Gorlovka,” the Moscow-installed head of the Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin, said on Telegram, referring to two occupied eastern industrial towns.

Moscow had earlier announced that its forces shot down four Ukrainian missiles over Moscow-annexed Crimea overnight.

The attack came a day after Russia said it repelled a Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea, downing 36 of them over the peninsula.

“Air defence on duty intercepted and destroyed four Ukrainian missiles over the Crimea peninsula,” the Russian defence ministry said.

Kyiv said it had hit the Saki airbase in western Crimea.

“Saki airfield! All targets have been shot!” Mykola Oleshchuk, Ukraine’s air force commander, said on social media.

Russian officials did not comment on the alleged attack, but Russia’s defence ministry said in the early hours of Saturday that it had successfully downed four Ukrainian missiles over the peninsula overnight.

tAlso today, the ministry reported that its air defence forces had shot down six anti-ship missiles over the Black Sea.

Traffic was temporarily suspended for a third straight day on a bridge connecting the peninsula with Russia’s southern Krasnodar region. The bridge is a crucial supply link for Russia’s war effort.

Ukraine has targeted Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, since the start of Moscow’s full-scale offensive in February 2022.

Christmas cancelled

Russia announced today that it would cancel Orthodox Christmas midnight masses in the city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border, a day after officials offered to evacuate worried residents amid the increasing attacks.

Belgorod has been hit with near daily Ukrainian attacks recently, the deadliest of which killed 25 people on 30 December.

Russia celebrates Orthodox Christmas on 7 January and midnight masses are held on the night of 6 January.

The mayor of Belgorod, Valentin Demidov, said on social media he agreed with local church leaders that “night masses in Belgorod would be cancelled in connection to the operational situation”.

Yesterday, local officials made an unprecedented announcement to offer evacuations, almost two years into Moscow’s offensive in which Russia has tried to maintain a sense of normality at home.

With reporting from AFP and Press Association.