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Ukraine denies any involvement in armed action in Russian Belgorod

A senior aide to the Ukrainian President said Kyiv had nothing to do with an armed operation in Russia’s Belgorod region on Monday.

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“Ukraine is watching the events in the Belgorod region of Russia with interest and studying the situation, but it has nothing to do with it,” presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “As you know, tanks are sold at any Russian military store, and underground guerrilla groups are composed of Russian citizens.”

This morning the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said that a Ukrainian “sabotage group” had entered Russian territory but was repelled by Russian forces. He added that the Russian army, border guards, presidential guards, and the FSB security service were involved in the operation. No civilians had been harmed, and there was no evacuation underway, claimed the governor.

The Telegram channel Baza, which has links to Russian security services, published aerial footage apparently showing a Ukrainian armored vehicle advancing on a border checkpoint.

The Ukrainian media cited Ukrainian military intelligence saying that two armed military groups, the Liberty of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps consisting of Russian citizens, had carried out the attack.

Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said that the Freedom of Russia Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps were responsible for the incursion.

“Responsibility for these events was taken by citizens of Russia, particularly the RDK and the ‘Freedom of Russia’ Legion. We all can only welcome the decisive actions of opposition-minded Russian citizens, who are ready for an armed struggle against the criminal regime of Vladimir Putin,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Vladimir Putin had been informed about the attack and that work was underway to drive the “saboteurs” out.

Russian militia against Putin

A group calling itself the Liberty of Russia Legion – a Ukraine-based Russian militia that wants to overthrow Putin’s – said on Twitter it had “completely liberated” the border town of Kozinka.

The group also released a video showing five heavily armed fighters.

An organization calling themselves "Freedom of Russia Legion" published a video on their Telegram channel.

"The time has come to put an end to the Kremlin dictatorship! Be brave and have no fear because we are coming home! Russia will be free!" They said after criticizing…

— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) May 22, 2023

“We are Russians, like you. We are people like you. We want our children to grow up in peace. It is time to put an end to the dictatorship of the Kremlin,” one of the soldiers said.

Russian sources claim the aim of the incursion was to distract attention from the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, which Russian forces claim finally to have captured in its entirety after more than nine months of attritional fighting.

Early in March, the FSB also reported an incursion from Ukraine by an “armed group of Ukrainian nationalists” into Russia’s Bryansk region.

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