The authorities of Belgorod, a Russian region near the border with Ukraine, proposed on Friday to evacuate its inhabitants in the face of the multiplication of Ukrainian bombings, an unprecedented measure after the Kremlin assured that the conflict would not affect the security of its citizens.

“Starting today, we are ready to transport them to Stary Oskol and Gubkin [towns further from the border], where they will be in very comfortable conditions, in warm and safe rooms,” Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.

Shortly before, the authorities had indicated for the first time how windows should be protected in the event of an explosion.

The Belgorod region has been the target of large-scale shelling in recent days. On Saturday, a Ukrainian attack left 25 dead and injured more than a hundred in the regional capital of the same name, with 360,000 inhabitants.

It was the bloodiest Ukrainian attack since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. In retaliation, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to “intensify” his attacks on military targets in the former Soviet republic.

The Kremlin has tried to maintain a semblance of normality after two years of war, but the recent attacks on Belgorod have increased public fears.

“I see appeals on social networks in which it is written: ‘We are afraid, help us find a safe place’. Of course we will! We have already evacuated several families,” said Vyacheslav Gladkov in a video, alluding to other evacuations in smaller towns closer to the border in 2023.

The day before, a bombing left at least two people injured and broke the windows of several tall buildings. Faced with this situation, the authorities decided on Thursday to extend the school holidays “from January 9 to 19” in some centers and recommended that universities offer remote classes.

Residents who decide to evacuate to Stary Oskol and Gubkin will be able to “remain there as long as necessary,” the governor said, warning however that there would not be enough temporary accommodation to accommodate everyone.

“I will appeal to my colleagues, the governors of other regions, to help us,” he insisted.

Airstrikes have intensified on both sides of the border. For days, Russian forces have been bombing the main Ukrainian cities with the objective, according to experts, of exhausting the population and wearing down kyiv’s anti-aircraft defenses.

The Ukrainian military on Friday reported 29 Russian explosive drone attacks overnight, of which 21 were shot down by its air defense system. At least four people were injured in a Russian bombing in Kherson (south), the prosecutor’s office said.

The Russian Ministry of Defense, for its part, reported having “detected and destroyed” a Ukrainian missile over the Black Sea.