Fighting flares as Russians head to polls in presidential election

Leaders in Russia are accusing Ukraine of carrying out attacks along the border as an attempt to disrupt their presidential election. They have seen numerous strikes throughout the week in the regions of Belgorod and Kursk.

Local governors say Ukrainian forces are shelling their villages and killing and injuring civilians. Russia's defense ministry said its forces shot down seven missiles launched from Ukraine.

However, Ukrainian intelligence official Andriy Yusov said the operations are being conducted by Russian citizens who are defending their rights in an armed uprising against the Putin regime. He added that Belgorod and Kursk have turned into "active combat zones."

Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his National Security Council on Friday that the enemy attacks "do not -- and will not -- go unpunished." He blamed what he called the "neo-Nazi Kyiv regime" for disrupting the election.

Millions of people are casting ballots over three days to choose their new president, although Putin is almost certain to win his fifth term. Some polling stations have been set up in areas that were occupied by Russia after the invasion. Ukraine's foreign ministry is calling on people there not to participate, describing the proceedings as "illegal."

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saw missiles destroy homes in the southern city of Odesa on the same day that voting began. At least 20 people, including residents and rescue crews, were killed. Zelenskyy said his forces will do everything to ensure the "Russian killers" receive a "fair response."