The Russian Ministry of Defense said that air defense systems shot down most of the weapons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine aimed at Belgorod, but several rockets and cluster parts from intercepted Vilkha missiles hit the city. The strike killed at least 14 people, including two children, and injured more than 100.

"The Kyiv regime attempted to launch an indiscriminate combined strike on the city of Belgorod with two Vilkha missiles in banned cluster munitions, as well as Czech-made Vampire MLRS rockets," the Defense Ministry said.

According to the Defense Ministry, in the event of a direct hit by Vilkha missiles with cluster munitions on the city, the consequences would be much more severe.

"The Kiev regime, which committed this crime, is trying to divert attention from the defeats at the front, as well as to provoke us to such actions. We would like to emphasise that the Russian Armed Forces are working only on military facilities and infrastructure directly related to them. We will continue to act in this way. This crime will not go unpunished," the MoD concluded.

According to the latest data from the Russian Emergencies Ministry, as a result of the shelling of Belgorod by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 14 people were killed (including two children), another 108 were injured (including 15 minors). In turn, the governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, announced the death of three children. According to him, 17 wounded are in serious condition (12 adults and five children).

The press service of the Kremlin said that the president was informed about the strike of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on residential areas of Belgorod.

"On behalf of the head of state, a team of the Ministry of Health headed by Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko, as well as a group of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, flew to Belgorod to provide assistance to the victims," the report says.

Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Alexander Bastrykin instructed to send specialists of the central office of the department to Belgorod. A criminal case has been initiated under the articles murder, attempted murder, intentional destruction or damage to property.

"The head of the ICR instructed to identify all persons guilty of crimes against civilians, including those who gave criminal orders to shell the civilian population and infrastructure," the ministry stressed.

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Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin called what happened in Belgorod a great tragedy and a senseless brutal terrorist attack, adding that a team of doctors as part of a group of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation left for the city.

"We have close fraternal ties with Belgorod. If necessary, we will provide the necessary assistance for the restoration of the city," he wrote on his Telegram channel.

The Governor of the Voronezh Region, Alexander Gusev, and the Head of the Oryol Region, Andrey Klychkov, also offered assistance to Belgorod. Both governors also addressed the residents of their regions, noting that the operational situation is under control.

Along with this, the heads of the subjects called on residents to completely refrain from using any pyrotechnics and fireworks in the coming days.

Belgorod was also shelled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the previous day. As Vyacheslav Gladkov said earlier, damage was recorded in 55 private residential buildings, one apartment, as well as in two buildings of economic entities and three social facilities. He also reported that on December 29, as a result of a direct hit of one of the shells on a private residential building, a man was killed, and four other people, including a 10-year-old child, were injured.

Meeting of the UN Security Council

Russia's First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, said that the Russian side had requested a meeting of the Security Council in connection with the Belgorod attack. The hearing is scheduled for 16:00 New York time on December 30 (00:00 Moscow time).

"They also demanded the presence of the permanent representative of the Czech Republic, let him explain himself for the supply of ammunition by his country, from which civilians are dying... Let's see if the Czechs have the courage (and conscience) to join us: in other situations, there is a queue of willing EU member states to participate in the meetings on Ukraine requested by the Westerners," Polyansky wrote on his Telegram channel.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the United Kingdom was behind the terrorist attack in Belgorod, which, in coordination with the United States, "incites the Kiev regime to terrorist actions" against the backdrop of the failure of the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

"London, as Bankova's representatives recently stated, has forbidden the Kiev regime to negotiate with the Russian side, betting on the so-called victory on the battlefield. In the absence of the slightest chance to improve the deplorable situation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine "on the ground," the Anglo-Saxons have switched to the tactics of carrying out terrorist attacks against civilians," Zakharova said.

She added that the EU states are also responsible for the terrorist attack, continuing to supply weapons to Ukraine, which uses them against civilians.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the strike was purposefully carried out in places of mass gathering of civilians, families with children. "The center of pre-holiday Belgorod was attacked - a New Year's snow town, a Christmas tree and an ice rink, where the townspeople came to rest. Ukrainian criminals used cluster munitions in order to increase the number of victims of the terrorist attack," the ministry said.