Authorities evacuated seventeen residential complexes in a Russian city near the Ukrainian border on Saturday after an explosive device was discovered near the place where a bomb accidently dropped by a Russian warplane caused a massive boom earlier this week.
The late-night bomb detonation in Belgorod left a big crater and three people injured. The Russian Defense Ministry swiftly admitted that the explosion was triggered by a weapon accidently discharged by one of its own Su-34 bombers.
The ministry said an inquiry was ongoing but did not comment on the weapon, which military experts said was most likely a powerful 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) bomb.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod province, said Saturday that sappers probing the site of Thursday’s blast discovered and decided to detonate a “explosive object” “in the immediate vicinity of residential buildings.”
According to Belgorod Mayor Valentin Demidov, the precautionary evacuations ceased later in the day.
“The bomb was taken out of the residential area.” Residents are being returned to their houses,” Demidov said on Telegram.
The Russian officials did not clarify whether the detonated item was dropped by mistake on Thursday, and if so, whether it was a remnant of or independent from the bomb that exploded in the city.
Belgorod, roughly 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the Russia-Ukraine border, has been targeted by drones on a regular basis since Russia launched soldiers into Ukraine last year. Russian officials have blamed the strikes on Ukraine’s military, which has refrained from directly taking responsibility.
Oleh Syniehubov, the governor of the Kharkiv region, stated late Saturday that five missiles fired from the Belgorod area hit the region, including one that impacted unidentified “civilian infrastructure” in Kharkiv.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has put relations with the West on ice, with both sides expelling diplomats on a regular basis.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday that German authorities had “decided on yet another mass expulsion of employees of Russian diplomatic missions in Germany.”
According to a ministry statement, “in response to Berlin’s hostile actions,” Russia decided to “mirror” Germany’s expulsions and “significantly limit” the maximum number of workers at German diplomatic missions in Russia.
According to Russian official media, Russia is expelling more than 20 German diplomats, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
The statements were noted by Germany’s Foreign Ministry. It stated that the German government and Russia had been in contact in recent weeks about “questions regarding the staffing of the respective diplomatic missions,” and that a flight took place on Saturday as a result. It didn’t go into detail.
The German air force previously stated that a Russian plane flew to Berlin on Saturday with diplomatic authorization, but did not explain who or what was on board. Because the European Union closed its airspace to Russian aircraft shortly after the conflict in Ukraine began, special permission is necessary.