A war crimes prosecutor, a rescuer and a civilian observe a destroyed building after being hit by a missile strike near Odessa.
At least three people were killed and dozens of homes destroyed in violent explosions on Sunday in Belgorod, a Russian city near the border with Ukraine, the regional governor announced on Thursday.
The Ukrainian army also bombed a Russian military base in the occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine.
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram that at least four people were also injured and two hospitalized, including a 10-year-old boy, in this city of some 400,000 inhabitants about 40 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border.
At least 11 residential buildings and 39 houses were damaged, he said.
Andreï Klishas, member of the Federation Council of Russia, denounced Ukrainian bombardments and called for a firm response.
Death of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Belgorod is a direct aggression by Ukraine and requires the harshest of responses, including military, he wrote on Telegram.
Ukrainian authorities did not react immediately and Reuters could not independently verify the Russian statements.
Since the beginning of the x27;Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Moscow blamed Kyiv for several attacks on Belgorod and Ukrainian border regions.
The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that the Ukrainian Air Force had carried out about 15 sorties on points of conflict and “that about 20 units of ;enemy equipment and two ammunition depots" had been destroyed. In Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast, the Ukrainian army carried out around 30 strikes on a Russian military base on Sunday, according to the town's mayor.
The Russian agency RIA reports Ukrainian strikes on the airfield area, without specifying the nature of the targets.
Yevgeny Balitsky, leader of the pro-Russian council in the Zaporizhia region, claimed on Telegram that the strikes targeted the airfield and did not cause any injuries. Several nearby homes were damaged, he said.
Reuters could not independently verify this information.
The Russian army, supported by local pro-Russian separatist forces, is concentrating its operations on the Donbass provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk to dislodge Ukrainian forces.
The Ukrainian army reported intense artillery fire in residential areas, mainly around Lysychansk, the last Ukrainian stronghold of Luhansk whose fate remains uncertain.
The Russians are strengthening their positions in the Lysychansk area, the city is on fire, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Telegram.
The Russian army seized Sievierodonetsk, on the opposite bank of the Donets, in June after heavy fighting.
Severodonetsk, city twin of Lysytchansk, was conquered last week by Moscow after the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces after several weeks of battle.
Lyssychansk is under control, but unfortunately not yet liberated, Rodion Miroshnik, ambassador to Russia of the self-proclaimed Luhansk Republic, told Russian television.
Spokesman for the Ukrainian National Guard, Ruslan Muzychuk, told national television that the city was still controlled by the Ukrainian army.
There are violent fighting near Lysychansk, but the town is not surrounded, he said. Reuters could not independently verify this information.
Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky, said that Russian troops had crossed the Donets and were heading towards Lysytchansk from the north.
The threat is there, indeed. We will see. I'm not ruling out any scenarios. The situation will clear up in a day or two, he said.
Ukrainian soldiers in Konstyantynivka, about 115 km west of Lysychansk, said a supply route remained to the besieged city, despite Russian shelling.
The Russian tactic is to bomb any building in which we could take shelter. When they have destroyed one, they move on to the next, explains one of them.
In the South, the Russian army claims to have bombed Ukrainian army command posts in Mykolaiv, a city near the strategic Black Sea port of Odessa.
Russian occupiers carry out attacks at the rocket, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Sunday.