Multiple Russian missiles strike in and around Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials say

At least five Russian missiles hit the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and surrounding districts late on Saturday night, causing some damage to civilian buildings, local officials said.

Saturday night missile strike damages civilian buildings

Ukrainian soldiers ride in a tank.

At least five Russian missiles hit the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and surrounding districts late on Saturday night, causing some damage to civilian buildings, local officials said.

Russia has for months been launching drones and missiles against a wide variety of Ukrainian targets in a bid to damage vital infrastructure.

Regional governor Oleh Sinegubov, writing on the Telegram messaging service, said one missile hit a house in the village of Kotliary, just to the south of Kharkiv, while another sparked a major fire in the city itself.

The reported strikes came hours after authorities in the Russian city of Belgorod said 17 apartment buildings had been evacuated after an explosive device was found at the site where a bomb was accidentally dropped by a Russian warplane two days earlier.

Thursday's errant bomb drop and ensuing blast left a large crater and three people injured in Belgorod, located just 40 kilometres from the border with Ukraine.

A damaged white car on a street at night

The Russian Defence Ministry quickly acknowledged that a weapon accidentally released by one of its own Su-34 bombers caused the explosion.

The ministry said an investigation was underway but did not elaborate on the details of the weapon, which military experts said likely was a powerful 500-kilogram bomb.

'Explosive object' dealt with

The governor of Belgorod province, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported on Saturday that sappers examining the site of Thursday's blast found and decided to detonate what he called an "explosive object" that was "in the immediate vicinity of residential buildings."

The precautionary evacuations ended later in the day, according to Belgorod Mayor Valentin Demidov.

"The bomb was removed from the residential area. Residents are being delivered back to their homes," Demidov wrote on Telegram.

Russian authorities did not say if the detonated device was dropped by accident on Thursday, and if so, if it was a remnant of or separate from the bomb that exploded in the city.

Belgorod has faced regular drone attacks since Russia sent troops into Ukraine last year.

Russian authorities have blamed those strikes on the Ukrainian military, which refrained from directly claiming responsibility for the attacks.

Moscow expels German diplomats

Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has sent relations with the West into deep freeze, with frequent expulsions of diplomats on both sides.

On Saturday, Russia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said that German authorities had "decided on another mass expulsion of employees of Russian diplomatic missions in Germany."

People walk below the Kremlin buildings in Moscow on a sunny day.

A ministry statement said that "as a reaction to the hostile actions of Berlin," Russia decided to "mirror" the expulsions by Germany and "significantly limit" the maximum number of staff at German diplomatic missions in Russia.

Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Russia is expelling more than 20 German diplomats, Russian state media reported, but it didn't give a precise number.

Germany's foreign ministry said it took note of the comments.

It said the German government and Russia had been in contact in recent weeks on "questions regarding the staffing of the respective diplomatic missions" and that a flight on Saturday took place in that context. It didn't elaborate.

The German air force said earlier that a Russian plane flew to Berlin with diplomatic clearance on Saturday, but it didn't specify who or what was on board.

Special clearance is required because the European Union closed its airspace to Russian aircraft shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

With files from Reuters

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