Russian air strikes lead to closure of schools and shops in Belgorod

The recent air strikes in Belgorod, Russia, have led to the closure of schools and shops in the region as tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalate. Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported two fatalities and accused Ukraine of being behind the attacks, which occurred as Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks another term in office in an election widely perceived as lacking credibility. The Russian defense ministry confirmed retaliatory strikes on Ukraine’s border areas, including the Belgorod region. In a separate incident, Ukrainian drones targeted two oil refineries in the Samara region, with one refinery set ablaze. Critics have condemned the ongoing election in Russia, where Putin faces minimal opposition due to the exclusion of candidates who opposed the invasion of Ukraine, and the sudden death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Despite widespread perceptions of electoral fraud, citizens have been encouraged to protest by voting against the government. Acts of vandalism at polling stations, including damage to ballot boxes and hacking attacks on political party websites, have marred the election process. The situation remains volatile as voting continues across different time zones in Russia.