Two men opened fire on Russian soldiers at a military firing range near the Ukrainian border, killing 11 and wounding 15 — an attack the Kremlin said was carried out by terrorists.
The attack came amid protests and large swaths of people fleeing the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered hundreds of thousands of reservists to enter the war as part of a hasty mobilization to beef up Russia’s presence in Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the shooting happened in the Belgorod region in southwestern Russia that borders Ukraine. The two men were from an ex-Soviet country and opened fire on soldiers during target practice, the agency said. They were killed in the attack.
Putin’s new mobilization of troops was coupled with a recent barrage of missile attacks in Ukraine. It appeared to be a response to the bombing that damaged the bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula a week ago and new gains by Ukraine to take back land the Kremlin said it has annexed.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla, may be abandoning plans to ask the U.S. government to fund his Starlink satellite network in Ukraine after a Saturday tweet. USA TODAY has reached out to SpaceX for comment.
In the first weeks of the invasion in early March, Musk came to Ukraine’s aid when his SpaceX company shared its Starlink satellite system that helps deliver internet access to areas that lack coverage.
Friday, Musk, the world’s richest man, tweeted that it cost SpaceX about $20 million a month to support the system and that the company “cannot fund the existing system indefinitely.”
‘TAKE YOUR CHILDREN AND LEAVE’:Russian official urges Kherson residents as Ukraine presses offense
►A Russian missile strike seriously damaged a key energy facility in Ukraine’s Kyiv region, Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said Saturday, adding that there were no deaths or injuries. Repair crews are working to restore electricity but further outages are possible, the electricity transmission company Ukrenergo said.
►Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he expects a controversial draft of army reservists he ordered to support its military campaign in Ukraine to be completed in two weeks, as Russia tries to counter gains by Ukrainian troops.
►In the southern Ukraine region of Kherson, Moscow-installed authorities urged residents to evacuate to Russia on Friday as Ukrainian troops continued counteroffensive efforts into the region. The move appears to indicate that Ukrainian military gains are worrying Russia as it tries to hold onto areas illegally annexed from Ukraine last month.
►Dane Partridge, a 34-year-old Idaho man serving as a volunteer soldier in Ukraine, died Tuesday from his injuries from a Russian attack in Luhansk in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
GRAPHICS:Mapping and tracking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Former President Barack Obama sounded the alarm on increasingly tenuous communications between U.S. and Russian leadership in a Friday interview with the podcast Pod Save America.
“The thing that I’m most concerned about is that lines of communication between the White House and the Kremlin are probably as weak as they have been in a very long time,” he told the podcast, which is hosted by former Obama administration staffers.
During the Cold War, even at its most strained points, there was a sense that picking up the phone and communicating through diplomatic channels was still an option, Obama said. But now, “a lot of that is broken down,” he said.
The former president attributed worsening communications between Russia and the U.S. to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s growing isolation, both globally and within his own ranks.
“I think that we’re now dealing with a type of Russian regime that is actually even more centralized, even more isolated and closed off,” Obama said. “I think Putin has consolidated decision making to a degree that we haven’t seen even during the Soviet era.”
USA TODAY requested comment from the White House on Obama’s remarks.
– Ella Lee, USA TODAY
RUSSIAN MISSILE ATTACKS:Death toll rises again as Russian missiles, drones hit Ukraine-held Zaporizhzhia
The U.S. will send Ukraine a new $725 million package of weapons and military aid, the White House said Friday.
The new package will include missiles, anti-tank weapons, ammunitions and medical supplies, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Defense.
In total, the U.S. has committed to more than $18.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine since January 2021.
The European Union, meanwhile, is preparing to announce about a half billion more euros of aid to buy weapons for Ukraine and a military training mission in Europe for thousands of Ukrainian troops, officials said Friday.
GRAPHICS:Ukraine regains more territory in east and south as counteroffensives continue
Contributing: The Associated Press
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.