Russia deployed air defense systems over Moscow on Saturday and issued emergency shelter instructions to citizens in Belgorod, near the Ukrainian border, in preparation for New Year celebrations.
About 2,000 soldiers will oversee Moscow’s air defenses while “on duty at combat posts on New Year’s Eve,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said, according to state media outlet TASS.
“In total, about 20,000 servicemen of the Air Defense Missile Defense Formation of the Aerospace Forces will be on air defense combat duty during the New Year holidays and weekends,” the outlet said on Telegram.
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The ministry didn’t say if it expects there will be an attack on the capital early in the new year, although Russia is also preparing areas along Ukraine’s border, according to Ukraine’s Pravda news agency.
The Belgorod Region – which borders Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast and whose regional capital is about 20 miles inland from the border – has seen several strikes in recent months as Ukrainian forces pushed the front further east.
According to the Ukrainian news agency, Russian authorities have provided residents of the region with maps of emergency shelters in the city in case of renewed attacks.
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Ukraine pushed Russian forces out of Kharkiv in September, and in October Belgorod reportedly began to see an increase in shelling.
The regional governor claimed a massive fire broke out in mid-October after shells fell on a Russian oil depot.
Then, in November, two people died in shelling in the area and power lines were reportedly damaged in early December.
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Another shooting incident was reported in December. 18 in which one person was killed, eight others injured and a dozen residential buildings damaged, according to regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
It remains unclear whether the Belgorod incidents were premeditated, and the Ukrainian government has not commented publicly on attacks targeting multiple Russian locations, including at least four separate attacks on Russian bases earlier this month.