Russian shelling kills 11 in Donetsk region while Ukraine claims Crimean air base hit

Su-25 ground attack jets fire rockets during a Russian air force attack on Ukraine. Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

Eleven people, including children, have been killed after Russian shelling hit parts of Ukraine’s partially occupied Donetsk province, officials have said.

Five children were among the dead and a further eight other people were wounded in the attack on the Pokrovsk district on Saturday, regional Govenor Vadym Filashkin said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military claimed it successfully attacked the Saki military airbase in the west of the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

“Saki airfield! All targets were hit!” Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on Telegram.

He also published a photo appearing to show the airfield, though it was not immediately possible to verify the image.

Russian officials did not comment on the alleged attack, but its Defence Ministry said in the early hours of Saturday that it had successfully downed four Ukrainian missiles over the peninsula overnight.

The ministry later reported that its air defence forces had shot down six anti-ship missiles over the Black Sea.

Traffic was temporarily suspended for a third straight day on a bridge connecting the peninsula, which Moscow seized illegally in 2014, with Russia’s southern Krasnodar region.

A funeral ceremony of Sviatoslav Romanchuk, Ukrainian serviceman, at the cemetery in Kyiv, Ukraine, earlier this week. Credit: AP

In Russia, local officials in Belgorod - some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border with Ukraine - said that an “air target” was shot down on approach to the city.

Ukrainian attacks on December 30 in Belgorod killed 25 people, officials there said, with rocket and drone attacks continuing throughout this week.

As Russians prepared to celebrate Orthodox Christmas on Sunday, Christmas Eve masses in Belgorod were cancelled due to the “operational situation,” mayor Valentin Demidov said.

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