Residents of two villages in Russia’s Belgorod region on the northeastern border of Ukraine were evacuated after a fire broke out in a nearby ammunition depot.

The fire is the latest in a series of devastating incidents in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine or within Russia.

About 1,100 people live in the villages of Timonovo and Soroti, about 15 miles (25 km) from the Ukrainian border.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, said no one was injured in the fire that broke out late Thursday.

Lvov Miroshnik, 74, inspects the roof of his home damaged in the rocket attack in Drushkivka, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on Thursday. (David Goldman/AP)

The fire comes days after another ammunition depot exploded in Ukraine’s Black Sea Crimea peninsula, a Russian-occupied territory Moscow seized in 2014.

Nine Russian fighter jets were reportedly destroyed last week at an air base in Crimea, demonstrating both Russia’s vulnerability and Ukraine’s ability to strike deep within enemy lines. Ukrainian authorities did not go so far as to publicly claim responsibility.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has hinted that Ukraine struck behind enemy lines after the explosions in Crimea, which Russia has accused of “sabotage”.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a televised address on Friday that statements by Ukrainian officials about the Crimea strike site showed “an escalation of the conflict openly encouraged by the United States and its NATO allies.”

Ryabkov said Russian officials had warned the United States against such actions in a phone call with senior Biden administration officials, saying that a “deep and open U.S. engagement” in the war in Ukraine would “make the U.S. It puts it on the brink of becoming a nation,” he added. parties to the dispute”.

“We don’t want escalation. We want to avoid a situation where the United States becomes a party to the conflict, but so far we are not ready to take these warnings seriously and seriously,” he said. added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (center) meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Meanwhile, Kyiv and Moscow continued to accuse each other of shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, fueling international fears of a continental catastrophe.

Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, has accused the United States of facilitating a Ukrainian attack on the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.

The facility has been under Russian control since shortly after the invasion began on 24 February.

“When a technological disaster strikes, the consequences are felt in every corner of the world,” said Patrushev.

“Washington, London and their accomplices take full responsibility for it.”

Ukraine accuses Russia of storing troops and weapons at the Zaporizhia factory and using that grounds to launch attacks against Ukrainian-held territories.

Ukrainian officials and military analysts say the Russian military cynically adopted the plant as a shield because they knew Ukrainians would hesitate to fight back.

Russia denied the accusation and accused Ukrainian forces of repeatedly shelling the plant.

After a visit to Ukraine on Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said President Zelensky would ensure Russia removes weapons stored in factories, in an “important step for world peace.” said he had asked him to

“Zelensky asked us specifically for this: for Russia to remove all mines and similar (weapons) out there, so that this problem rapidly ceases to be a terrifying one. Because it is a threat,” Erdogan said. Told.

Erdogan, who maintains close ties with both Ukraine and Russia, said he would discuss the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding: “Russia must play its part in this regard.”

The Turkish president commented to a group of Turkish journalists who returned from a visit with Mr Zelensky and UN Secretary-General António Guterres in Ukraine late Thursday.

At a meeting in the western city of Lviv, far from the frontlines, leaders discussed expanding prisoner-of-war exchanges and arranging for UN nuclear experts to visit and secure nuclear power plants. .

A woman stands inside a building damaged by a rocket attack on Thursday in Dorzhkivka, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. (David Goldman/AP)

Meanwhile, at least five people were killed and 10 wounded in Russian shelling of towns and villages in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, local officials said.

The shelling damaged residential and civilian infrastructure in the combat zone, where Russian forces are trying to overtake areas still controlled by Ukraine.

And early Friday morning, a Russian shelling of the city of Kharkov, northwest of the Donetsk region, killed at least one civilian, while Russian missiles in the southern port city of Mykolaiv slammed into the previously shelled port complex. The university building was attacked again. Earlier this week. One person was injured in the attack, officials said.

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