Russia Evacuates Thousands Amid Ukraine Border Attacks

Russian authorities in the border region of Belgorod expanded school closures amid an evacuation plan as Ukrainian drones and shelling continued to pound the region, the Associated Press reported.

In mid-March, Ukrainian forces extended their long-range strikes in Russia. While Kyiv lacks ammunition along the front line in Ukraine, it has been attacking oil facilities inside Russia while seeking to unnerve the Russian regions along the Ukraine border in hopes of putting pressure on the Kremlin.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov announced on March 20 that schools in the city of Belgorod and surrounding areas would be closed for the remainder of the week. Cultural and sporting venues, along with clubs, would also remain closed while universities would go to remote learning.

Gladkov announced the closures just one day after unveiling plans to evacuate the roughly 9,000 children from the region.

Despite the constant attacks, the turnout in Belgorad for Russia’s presidential election was 87 percent. Russian President Vladimir Putin captured 90.66 percent of the vote to secure a fifth term in office. However, Ukraine and the West have described Putin’s victory as a sham.

Ukraine’s attacks within Russian territory have embarrassed Moscow.

In late December, a Ukrainian artillery strike on Belgorod city reportedly killed 21, including three children.

In a televised meeting at the Kremlin on March 20, President Putin vowed to provide support to the civilians in Belgorod whose homes or businesses have been destroyed in Ukrainian attacks.

In a statement on March 20, the Russian Defense Ministry said it intercepted 13 rockets fired into the Belgorod region that morning. Governor Gladkov said the rocket attacks killed three and injured two others, including a 17-year-old girl, bringing the total number of dead in just one week to sixteen.

Ukraine also targeted the city of Engels, about 500 miles east of the Ukraine border in Russia’s Saratov region. The Russian Defense Ministry said the region was attacked by Ukrainian drones, four of which it said were shot down.