People take cover inside a subway station during an air raid alert in Kyiv
People take cover inside a subway station during an air raid alert, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 1, 2023. Reuters

Moscow's relentless aerial assaults on Ukraine killed another three people on Thursday, including a nine-year-old girl and her mother shut out of a shelter, while shelling in western Russia injured some people and triggered evacuations.

Both sides seem to be trying to sap morale and weaken military capacity ahead of a long-promised Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russia's 15-month-old invasion.

To the world's horror, the war has killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions, shattered Ukrainian cities, and this week brought more drone raids on Russia's capital Moscow.

Ukraine said it shot down 10 ballistic and Iskander cruise missiles in Russia's 18th attack on the capital Kyiv since the start of May. But a nine-year-old girl, her mother and another woman died when rocket debris fell near an air raid shelter they had been trying to enter.

"The entrance was closed, there were already maybe five to 10 women with children," local resident Yaroslav Ryabchuk said in the Desnyanskyi district. "No one opened up for them. They knocked loudly enough ... They tried to enter the shelter, no one opened up for them. My wife died."

Russia denies targeting civilians or committing war crimes but its forces have devastated cities and repeatedly hit residential areas since the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion.


Over the border, in the western Russian town of Shebekino, shelling overnight and into the morning wounded eight people and damaged buildings, the local Belgorod region's governor said.

Belgorod has come under repeated attack over the border in recent months, with some villages briefly seized in May during an incursion. Moscow blames Ukrainian "terrorists" and its army, but Kyiv says anti-Putin Russian volunteers are at work.

"In Shebekino district, there is ongoing shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a video posted on Telegram.

The mayor of Belgorod city, 33 km (20 miles) from Shebekino, said evacuation points were being prepared for Shebekino residents, with 134 people already registered.

Russia says Ukrainian shelling of its border areas has increased in recent weeks, in parallel with its intensified missile and drone attacks on Kyiv.

President Vladimir Putin's government claims to have annexed parts of east and south Ukraine in a "special military operation" to "denazify" its neighbour, protect Russian speakers and defend its borders from aggressive Western ambitions.

Kyiv and its Western allies accuse Putin of a barbaric invasion and imperialist-style land grab.

At a European summit in Moldova, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pressed his case for Ukraine to be part of the NATO military alliance and reiterated his appeal for Western fighter jets to bolster his army.

"You supported our people, our refugees who fled in the first days of the war, and we will never forget it," Zelenskiy told his host, Moldovan President Maia Sandu. "Our future is in the EU. Ukraine is ready to join NATO."

People run to a shelter during an air raid alert in Kyiv
People run to a shelter past a residential building damaged during the last Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, while an air raid alert sounds in Kyiv, Ukraine June 1, 2023. Reuters