Suspected SECOND unexploded bomb dropped by Russian warplane prompts evacuation of 3,000 residents
More than 3,000 Russian civilians have been evacuated after the discovery of an unexploded bomb – believed to have been dropped by one of Vladimir Putin’s own warplanes – after a second went off in a huge explosion earlier this week.
Residents of seventeen apartment blocks in Belgorod, which is just over the border with Ukraine, were evacuated after a 500 kg explosive device was found within 650 feet of their buildings.
The major blunder follows a bomb going off in the city after it was accidentally dropped by an Su-34 Russian fighter-bomber on the city causing a powerful blast, which saw several people injured.
The new bomb is believed to be the same type as the first – a FAB-500M62, a Soviet-designed general purpose air-dropped bomb with a high-explosive warhead, capable of causing utter devastation.
The embarrassing admission comes as Moscow has ramped up its diplomatic battle with the west, with more than 20 German officials being angrily expelled by the Kremlin in what it called a ‘reciprocal’ move.
Russian authorities did not say if the device was dropped by accident by an Su-34 on Thursday and if so, whether it was a remnant of or separate from the bomb that exploded in Belgorod
Queues of traffic in the Russian city of Belgorod as 3,000 residents were evacuated today
Belgorod Region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov shows the site of the crater after an explosion on Thursday
Kyiv’s forces released images showing smoke rising over the almost levelled city of Bakhmut
The latest embarrassment for Russia saw sappers uncover a bomb on their own territory, buried some 22ft below the surface and poses an acute danger to locals in Belgorod.
Those evacuated lived in the same area as those affected by the huge blast on Thursday, which left a 70ft crater in the middle of the road and damaged homes and roads.
Military explosive experts decided to ‘neutralise’ the explosive at a training ground, Belgorod region governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram.
‘The operational headquarters decided to evacuate 17 apartment buildings within a radius of 200 metres. According to preliminary data, it is more than 3,000 people. Anyone who needs help with temporary accommodation, it will be provided,’ he said.
Gladkov said later that people had started to return to their homes after a ‘shell’ was removed from the area.
The precautionary evacuations ended later in the day, according to Belgorod mayor Valentin Demidov.
‘The bomb was removed from the residential area. Residents are being delivered back to their homes,’ Mr Demidov wrote on Telegram.
Russian authorities did not say if the detonated device was dropped by accident on Thursday and if so, whether it was a remnant of or separate from the bomb that exploded in the city.
‘The bomb was found near the place where the explosion occurred on April 20 due to the descent of Su-34 ammunition,’ said anti-war group Protest Russia.
‘It turns out that stupidly for two days no one noticed that the Su-34 had lost two bombs, not one.’
A picture shared by the Governor of the Belgorod Region Vyacheslav Gladkov’s telegram channel shows damage at the site of a blast in downtown Belgorod
A Russian SU-34 warplane bombed its own city of Belgorod in 20 April 2023 humiliating blunder
Those evacuated lived in the same area as those affected by the huge blast on Thursday, which left a 70ft crater in the middle of the road and damaged homes, including this apartment
Belgorod, located about 25 miles east of the Russia-Ukraine border, has faced regular drone attacks since Russia sent troops into Ukraine last year.
Russian authorities have blamed those strikes on the Ukrainian military, which refrained from directly claiming responsibility for the attacks.
Meanwhile the bloody battle for Bakhmut – just a few hours’ drive away from Belgorod – rages on, , with Kyiv’s forces releasing images showing smoke rising over the almost levelled city.
Putin’s forces, believed to be Wagner mercenary fighters, claimed today that they have taken three districts in the key Ukrainian city, which has been the epicentre of fighting in recent months.
‘The airborne troops were restraining the Ukrainian units on the flanks and supported the actions of the assault squads to capture the city,’ Russia’s defence ministry said in its latest bulletin.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent support for Kyiv’s forces from Germany, Britain and other western powers has sent relations into deep freeze, with frequent expulsions of diplomats on both sides.
Ukrainian soldiers fire targets on the front line in the direction of the city of Ugledar, Donetsk
A Ukrainian service member walks near residential buildings damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the front line town of Bakhmut
Putin’s forces claimed today that they have taken three districts in the key Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Pictured: Ukrainian serviceman near to shelled buildings in the city
Ukrainian soldiers of the 57th Brigade fire a mortar in the direction of Bakhmut, in Donetsk Oblast
Kyiv is reportedly preparing for a new assault on Russian positions utilising new kit supplied by the UK and other allies, including Challenger 2, M1 Abrams, and Leopard 2 battle tanks, Stryker and Bradley armoured vehicles, and new artillery systems.
The arsenal could be used to conduct a ‘big bang-style’ offensive bulldoze Putin’s forces and even retake Crimea, military experts told The Sun Online.
Former US General Ben Hodges told the news site that he believes Ukraine will focus their efforts on finally retaking Crimea, which has been in Russian hands since 2014.
Developments on the battlefield come as Russia has announced the expulsion of more than 20 German diplomats, a move Moscow described as reciprocal following the departure of some of its diplomats from Berlin.
‘As a reaction to the hostile actions of Berlin, the Russian side decided to mirror the expulsion of German diplomats from Russia, as well as to significantly limit the maximum number of employees of German diplomatic missions in our country,’ Russian news agency Tass cited the Russian foreign ministry as saying.
A German foreign ministry official said Berlin and Moscow had been in contact in the last few weeks with the aim of reducing Russia’s intelligence presence in Germany.
‘Today’s departure of Russian embassy staff is related to this,’ the official added.
The German ministry declined to say how many Russian diplomats had left.
Ukrainian servicemen ride inside a M113 armoured personnel carried on a road to the front line city of Bakhmut
Relations between Russia and Germany, which used to be the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas, have crumbled since Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine in February last year.
Ukraine has been building up its diplomatic ties with western nations as the war drags on into its fourteenth month.
Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister, tweeted about his meetings today with counterparts from the Netherlands, New Zealand and Estonia.
He said Kyiv is ‘deepening our cooperation’ with Estonia and the Netherlands, and described New Zealand as ‘true friends’ of the Ukrainian army and people.