Eleven people have been shot and killed at a Russian military training ground, the Ministry of Defense reports, in the latest strike against President Vladimir Putin’s forces since the invasion of Ukraine.
The RIA news agency, citing the ministry, reported that another 15 people were wounded on Saturday in the southwestern Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, when two men shot a group of volunteers participating in the war.
It said the two attackers – citizens of an unidentified former Soviet republic – had been shot dead.
The attack happened a week later a peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. Earlier during the war, the Russian flagship exploded and sank in the Black Sea.
“During shooting training with individuals who voluntarily expressed their desire to participate in a military special operation (against Ukraine), terrorists opened fire on the personnel of the unit,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement, citing RIA.
A day earlier, Mr. Putin said that Russia should be finished two weeks later, pledging to end the divisive mobilization that has seen hundreds of thousands of men drafted into Ukraine to fight and vast numbers fleeing the country.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces still hold the strategic eastern city of Bakhmut despite repeated Russian attacks, while the situation in the wider Donbass region remains very difficult.
President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky Source: AAP / ABACA/PA
Although Ukrainian forces have reclaimed thousands of square kilometers of land in the latest offensive in the east and south, officials say progress is likely to slow if Kiev’s forces meet more determined resistance.
Ukrainian forces and civilians rely on the Starlink Internet service provided by Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company. Mr Musk said on Friday that he could no longer afford to fund the service, but said on Saturday that he would continue to do so.
Mr Zelensky said nearly 65,000 Russians had been killed since the February 24 invasion, far exceeding Moscow’s official September 21 estimate of 5,937 dead. In August, the Pentagon said Russia had suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, either killed or wounded.
Mr. Putin ordered the mobilization three weeks ago, part of a response to Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. He also announced the annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions and threatened to use nuclear weapons.
Speaking in an evening address, Mr. Zelensky also said that Russian missiles and drones continue to strike Ukrainian cities, causing destruction and casualties.
Kyiv said on Friday it expected the United States and Germany to deliver advanced anti-aircraft systems this month to help defend against missiles.
The fighting is particularly intense in the east of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which border Russia. Together, they make up the largest industrial Donbas, which Moscow has not yet fully captured.
Russian troops have repeatedly tried to capture Bakhmut, which is located on the main road leading to the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. Both are located in the Donetsk region.
Separately, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook that troops on Saturday repelled a total of 11 separate Russian attacks in the area of Kramatorsk, Bakhmut and the town of Avdeivka, north of Donetsk.