Russia says ‘massive’ airstrikes were to avenge Ukraine border attacks

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Russia’s defense ministry said Friday it had launched a series of “massive” airstrikes against Ukraine as retaliation for Ukrainian attacks on its border regions over recent weeks.

Kyiv said earlier that Russia had hit it with the largest aerial attack in months, targeting energy facilities across the country and killing at least five people in overnight strikes.

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“From 16 to 22 March, in response to the shelling of our territory and attempts to break through and seize Russian border settlements, the military carried out 49 retaliatory strikes,” Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement.

Pro-Kyiv militias had last week staged a number of armed raids into Russian territory, while there was a sharp increase in shelling, rocket and drone attacks on Russia’s border regions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously vowed the escalation would “not go unpunished.”

The defense ministry said Friday’s strikes had targeted Ukraine’s “energy sector, military-industrial complex, railway hubs, arsenals and places where Ukrainian troops and foreign mercenaries are stationed.”

It said all targets of the “massive” strikes had been hit.

Russia launched a missile attack at the capital Kyiv on Thursday and earlier this week five people were killed in a missile strike on the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, local authorities said.

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Moscow also said it had repelled further attempted raids into its territory this week.

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