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Ukraine upping attacks to inferfere with election

President Vladimir Putin has said that Ukraine was upping its attacks on Russian territory in order to interfere with upcoming presidential elections.

Russia has this week faced some of the most significant attacks on its territory since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine more than two years ago.

Several oil refineries have been hit in waves of drone attacks and yesterday groups of pro-Kyiv volunteer fighters made up of Russians who oppose the Kremlin said they had broken into the border regions of Kursk and Belgorod in a brazen attack that was eventually suppressed.

Asked about the attacks in an interview, excerpts of which were published today, Mr Putin said: “It’s simple.

“This is all happening against the backdrop of failures on the frontline. They did not achieve any of the goals that they set for themselves last year.”

“I have no doubt that the main goal is, if not to disrupt the presidential elections in Russia then to somehow interfere with the normal process,” the Ria-Novosti news agency and Rossia 1 television quoted him as saying.

Russia is due to hold presidential elections on 15-17 March, with Mr Putin, who has ruled the country since the turn of the century, set to secure another six-year term.

Locals clear rubble of ruined houses following shelling on the settlement of Hanzhenkova on the outskirts of Makiivka in Russian-controlled Ukraine

Wave of drone strikes

A wave of drone strikes targeted Russia’s oil refineries and border regions for the second day in a row, with one sparking a fire and injuring several people in the Ryazan region, officials said.

Dozens of drones were launched overnight, with the vast majority shot down, causing some damage but no victims, over the Ukrainian border regions of Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk and Voronezh, according to regional governors.

One sparked a fire and wounded several people when it crashed into an oil refinery in the Ryazan region that lies some 200 kilometres southeast of Moscow.

“The Ryazan oil refinery was attacked by a drone,” Ryazan regional governor Pavel Malkov wrote on Telegram.

“According to preliminary information, there are injuries,” he wrote.

A fire broke out at the refinery following the strike and “all rescue services are working at the scene,” Mr Malkov said.

A drone targeting another oil refinery in the Leningrad region near the second city of Saint Petersburg in northwest Russia was shot down, Alexander Drozdenko, the regional governor wrote on Telegram, adding there was no damage and no victims.

More than 30 drones were shot down over the Voronezh region, with some light damage reported, regional governor Alexander Gussev wrote on Telegram.

Six drones were shot down over the Belgorod region, damaging several electrical lines and causing power outages, governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram.

Eight drones were shot down over the Bryansk region and four were destroyed over the region of Kursk without reports of damage, the governors of those regions wrote on Telegram.

Yesterday, Ukraine launched one of its most significant drone strikes on Russia so far in the two-year conflict.

Two Russian energy sites, including one of the largest oil refineries some 800 kilometres from the border, were hit in the strikes, Russian officials said.

A major oil refinery in Kstovo, just outside the city of Nizhny Novgorod, was hit by a drone early yesterday morning, the regional governor said.

Another drone crashed into a fuel depot and started a fire in Oryol, around 160 kilometres from the border, according to the regional governor.

Destroyed houses following shelling of Hanzhenkova on the outskirts of Makiivka in Russian-controlled Ukraine

At least two killed in Russian attacks on Ukraine’s eastern regions – Kyiv

At least two people were killed in overnight Russian drone and bomb attacks in Ukraine’s eastern Sumy and Donetsk regions, local officials have said.

Russians dropped a bomb on Myrnohrad town in Donetsk region, killing two and injuring five people, local governor Vadym Filashkin said on Telegram messaging app.

The Sumy regional military administration said there were casualties as a result of a Russian drone hitting an apartment block overnight.

The administration said 30 apartments of a five-storey residential building were damaged, 15 of them largely destroyed.

Ten people were rescued from the rubble, eight of whom sustained injuries, the officials said.

Late yesterday, Russian missile slammed into two apartment buildings in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, killing four people and injuring at least 50.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was born and raised in the city, praised rescue teams on Telegram and vowed Russia would be brought to account.

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