At least three civilians were killed in the alleged cluster bomb attack, which destroyed five houses and damaged 11 apartment buildings and 39 houses. The Kremlin’s allegations have been supported by alleged images of the destruction in Belgorod, although these images have not been verified.
Ukraine officials have so far declined to comment on the allegations, which would seriously escalate the war if true, as cluster munitions have been widely banned.
Evidence has shown that Russia has previously used such weapons in their attack on Ukraine, with Amnesty International saying there is evidence of repeated use of 9N210/9N235 cluster bombs and “scatterable” ammunition.
When Amnesty’s investigation was unveiled last month, Donatella Rovera, the non-governmental organization’s senior adviser on crisis response, told the BBC: “These weapons should never be used.
“They cannot be located. They are area weapons.
“And they have a devastating effect and can cause many civilian casualties and injuries.”
According to Ms Rovera, the use of cluster weapons “is tantamount to deliberately targeting civilians … and the decision to use them shows absolute disregard for civilian life”.
Russia has denied the charges and reiterated that they only targeted and hit military targets.
It is believed that the Kremlin’s accusations may be part of a “false flag” operation that Russia has repeatedly been accused of in an effort to increase hostility towards Kiev and its allies.
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Senior Russian politician Andrei Klishas wrote on Telegram: “The death of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Belgorod are a direct act of aggression on the part of Ukraine and require the most serious – including a military – response.”
The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, told Russian media that “all medical assistance is being provided” to those from the alleged attack area.
He added: “At the moment there is information about three deaths.”
A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said: “Tonight [Sunday]Between 03:00 and 03:30 Moscow time, the Kiev regime carried out a deliberate attack with Tochka-U ballistic missiles with cluster munitions and Tu-143 Reis drones on residential areas of Belgorod and Kursk, where there are no military facilities. †
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The spokesman added that the missile defense systems had destroyed the three Tochka-U missiles and the debris hit the homes.
Such missiles are made by the Soviet Union and explode above the ground, splitting into hundreds of pieces that can hit the body in multiple places to have the most impact when injuring and killing targets.
Russia used such weapons in April at a packed train station full of refugees in Kramatorsk, Donbas, killing at least 59 people and injuring 110.