The Legion of Liberty of Russia and the Russian Volunteer Corps were said to be involved in a cross-border incursion into Russia’s Belgorod region.
Russian forces continue to engage in operations against cross-border attackers — described instead as either Russian armed opposition groups or Ukrainian saboteurs — who have entered Russia from Ukraine in one of the most audacious attacks on Russian soil since the start of the Kremlin’s 15-month-old war. since.
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on Tuesday that an “anti-terrorist operation” is continuing against what he described earlier as a Ukrainian “sabotage group” that entered Russian territory in the Grivoron region bordering Ukraine.
The governor told residents who fled Grivoron that it was “not possible to go back yet” to their homes.
“Regarding the situation in the Graivoron region: the area is being cleaned up by the Ministry of Defense together with law enforcement agencies,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.
He added that a woman was killed and two wounded, but the Russian forces could not reach them.
Ukrainian news anchor Hromadsk, citing Ukrainian military intelligence sources, said on Monday that two Russian armed opposition groups, the Legion of Liberty of Russia and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), made up of Russian citizens, are responsible for the attack on the Belgorod region.
Little is known about the groups or their ties to the Ukrainian military. The RVC was founded last August and is said to be made up mostly of Russian far-right anti-Putin militants with links to Ukrainian far-right groups.
Andriy Chernyak, a representative of the Ukrainian secret service, said Russian citizens were behind the cross-border attack.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Twitter that Ukraine had “nothing to do with it”, and referred to the emergence of an “armed guerrilla movement” to oppose a “totalitarian state”.
“Ukraine is watching the events in the #Belgorod region of #Russia with interest and studying the situation,” he said.
The only driving political force in a totalitarian country where screws reign supreme is always an armed guerrilla movement. # Ukraine Watch events in # Belgorod region #Russia Intently and studying the situation but has nothing to do with it. You know, tanks …
– ихайло Подоляк (Podolyak_M) May 22, 2023
Telegram channels that monitor Russian military activity, including blog Rybar which has more than 1 million subscribers, said buildings housing Russia’s interior ministry and the FSB security service were attacked in the region’s main city, also known as Belgorod.
RVC posted video footage late Monday on its social media Telegram channel, showing what the group described as a fighter inspecting a captured Russian armored vehicle. Another video showed what it said were fighters driving an armored vehicle on a country road inside Russian territory.
Russian volunteer forces allegedly captured a Russian BTR82A armored personnel carrier during its incursion from Ukraine into the Belgorod region, western Russia, on May 22.
– Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 23, 2023
Other videos posted on Russian and Ukrainian social media channels showed photos and videos of what they described as captured Russian service members and their identification documents.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said on Tuesday that two groups of “all-Russian pro-Ukrainians” crossed the border with tanks, armored personnel carriers and other armored vehicles. According to Russian sources.
Some military bloggers focused on the fact that the invading units were composed mostly of Russians, leading some to label them “traitors to Russia,” according to the ISW, while the head of Wagner’s mercenary force Yevgeny Prigozhin blamed the Russian Defense Ministry for its inability to defend the country. Russia. country borders.
2 / Russian sources reported on the morning of May 22 that a detachment of the RDK and LSR consisting of several armored vehicles crossed the international border and captured the Kozinka settlement in the Grayvoron district of # Belgorod Oblast within 600 meters of the border with Sumy Oblast.
– ISW (The Study of War) May 23, 2023
News of the cross-border attack, the ISW said, saw the Russian information space respond with “a similar degree of panic, disunity and incoherence as seen when exposed to major media shocks”.
The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been informed and work was underway to expel the “saboteurs”. He said efforts were under way to “expel them from Russian lands and liquidate them.”
Peskov described the operation as an attempt by Ukraine to divert attention from the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Moscow claimed it had captured after months of battle. Where Kyiv says it is still fighting.
Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, posted several videos from social media about the attacks and groups involved in the incursion, including a video purporting to show the flag of the Freedom Corps of Russia attached to balloons and said to be flying in Moscow.
Russian media reported that the buildings of the FSB (Federal Security Bureau) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs were struck in Belgorod, Russia.
Reportedly, the buildings were attacked by drones. pic.twitter.com/rJrN4QKfg6
– Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) May 22, 2023
The Baza channel on Telegram, which has links to the Russian security services, said there were indications of fighting in three settlements along the main road to Russia. Telegram channel Open Belgorod said electricity and water were cut off in several villages.
The Liberty Corps of Russia said on Twitter that it had “completely liberated” the border town of Kozynka. It added that forward units had reached the center of the easternmost district of Grayvoron.
“moving forward. Russia will be free! the group wrote.
The corps and the RVC were completely liberated from Kozinka, Belgorod Oblast. The forward units entered Graivoron.
Russia will be free!
– Legion “Liberty of Russia” (@legion_svoboda) May 22, 2023
In early March, the FSB reported an incursion from Ukraine into Russia’s Bryansk region. In videos circulating on the Internet at the time, militants who belonged to the Russian Volunteer Corps said they had crossed the border to fight what they called “Putin’s bloody regime and the Kremlin”.
The RVC was founded last August by Denis Kapustin, a Russian nationalist based in Ukraine, and announced on May 17 that it was joining the Liberty Army of Russia, which calls itself the Freedom Corps of Russia in English.
The group says it has carried out at least three incursions into the Bryansk region since March.
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