A wave of looting has reportedly hit a border zone in Russia as Vladimir Putin’s authorities lose control of the Belgorod Oblast region.
Homes and local shops appeared to be targeted by Russian looters amid the chaos as tens of thousands of Russians evacuating border areas in the Belgorod region as pro-Ukraine forces hit back at Russia.
A video from the town of Shebekino showed a building ablaze after a suspected strike. Ukraine’s military has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, or denied it was behind them.
Shelling has pounded the settlement for several days, forcing thousands of residents to flee villages near Russia’s southwestern border as shelling intensified.
Incandescent over the attacks, Kremlin mouthpieces on Russia’s state television called for the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to target major Ukrainian cities.
Burning houses in Shebekino, Belgorod region, Russia
Fire ripped through a building in Shebekino near the Ukraine border as anti-Kremlin fighters hit back at Russia. Ukraine’s military has not officially claimed responsibility for the attacks
Nearby village Sobolevka – where two were killed – was heavily hit by drone attacks, according to local officials, with six wounded, including two children.
The attacks appear to show Russian control slipping from key settlements near the Ukrainian border.
Partisan fighters in at least two anti-Putin armed groups are seeking to establish a bridgehead of ‘free Russia’ in border areas of Belgorod region.
Russian commanders handed out medals to defenders in a desperate bid to shore up morale in the blitzed frontier zone.
Putin’s state media also showed a macabre but unverified video of corpses of alleged Russian Volunteer Corps and Ukrainian fighters slain inside Russia. It was claimed that more than 50 had been killed.
A video also showed a drone attack over Belgorod city – 25 miles from the border with Ukraine – with Russian air defences at work.
Many residents of the border region have relocated to Belgorod, where temporary accommodation is provided.
A man evidently from Shebekino recorded a video around his looted flat.
‘I am truly speechless,’ he said. Looters turned everything upside down.
‘They stole everything,’ says one man who recorded a video around his looted flat in Shebekino
‘To loot your own people during such difficult times. I am lost for words,’ the man said
‘They stole everything. All our money, everything we saved. How low did they go? Just look at it. How is it even possible?’
‘Look what the looters have done,’ said a woman’s voice. How terrible – they knocked the door out. This was done by our own [Russian] people’
Many residents of the border region have relocated to Belgorod, after some buildings came under attack from shelling
‘They stole everything. All our money, everything we saved. How low did they go? Just look at it. How is it even possible?
‘To loot your own people during such difficult times. I am lost for words.’
Another showed a shop after its security guard had fled the town, said reports.
‘Look what the looters have done,’ said a woman’s voice. How terrible – they knocked the door out. This was done by our own [Russian] people.
‘They must have stolen something. Some tape was put over, but it was torn apart, too. Awful. It was done by some of our own people.’
Later footage showed buildings ablaze in another border village Novaya Tavolzhanka.
Reports said a woman pensioner died and another resident sustained shrapnel wounds on the left shoulder.
Governor of Belgorod region Vyacheslav Gladkov earlier said five people had been killed in the border region today, and 16 wounded.
Two men were killed in the village of Sobolevka, and a woman died in an ambulance. Two more women died in the Shebekinsky district.
Putin’s propagandists are incandescent over the attacks, with one – Vladimir Solovyov – calling for all major Ukrainian cities to be totally wiped out with tactical nuclear weapons after giving residents six hours to leave before ‘blowing the hell’ out of them.
In a TV rant, Solovyov – considered to be Putin’s favourite state TV propagandist – said: ‘I’m furious actually. A beautiful Russian city on our land is being ironed by all kinds of Nazi scum.
‘We should wipe Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Odessa, Mykolayiv, Kharkiv off the face of the earth, then rebuild it, just tear it down in blocks.
‘Raise everything we have and wipe it off the face of the earth. You need tactical nuclear weapons – use them.
Putin’s propagandists are incandescent over the attacks, with one – Vladimir Solovyov – calling for all major Ukrainian cities to be totally wiped out with tactical nuclear weapons
‘We should wipe Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Odessa, Mykolayiv, Kharkiv off the face of the earth, then rebuild it, just tear it down in blocks,’ Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov said
‘We should not get used to our territory being attacked. They want a war without rules? We can fight back.
‘We’re not them, we’ll warn the civilians to leave. We’ll give them six hours to leave quickly.
‘And blow the hell out of these cities. Then we rebuild them.’
Amid the reported attacks, residents from the hardest hit provincial towns, have poured into the region’s main city, also called Belgorod.
At Belgorod’s sports arena, which has become the city’s biggest centre for displaced people, displaced people were organised to smaller dormitories.
Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said 2,500 people were being accommodated in temporary shelters, including the sports arena.
‘We have never had a situation like this,’ Gladkov told reporters at the arena.
He said the conditions at the arena were becoming ‘cramped’ and displaced people were being moved to other spots.
Belgorod mayor Valentin Demidov told reporters that a total of 5,000 people had transited through the temporary shelters and registered in recent days, with many then going to stay with relatives.
‘We are trying to re-settle people as quickly as possible,’ he said.
Separately, Russia faced a drone attack aimed at a key oil refinery in Smolensk region.
Earlier on Friday Putin’s occupiers faced a suspected Storm Shadow missile strike on Berdiansk, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov.