The Russian Volunteer Corps (Russkiy Dobrovol’cheskiy Korpus, or RDK), a group that says they represent armed Russian fighters opposed to the Kremlin, claimed on Monday, May 22, to have captured a Russian armored personnel carrier in Kozinka, in Russia’s Belgorod Region.
In a video obtained by Reuters, a person purporting to be representing the RDK was seen placing a sticker reading RDK on an armored vehicle over the “Z” symbol used to identify Russian forces.
The group claimed it was a Russian armored personnel carrier.
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In a second clip, released on Tuesday, May 23, an armored vehicle was seen in a damaged building at the Graivoron border crossing. Writing on a nearby wall read “Greetings from Bakhmut,” in reference to the Ukrainian city Russia claims to have recently captured after months of grinding warfare and suffering tens of thousands of casualties.
Reuters was able to confirm the location of the videos as the Graivoron border crossing in the Belgorod region. Buildings seen in the exterior video matched satellite imagery. The armored vehicle seen in the interior video matched the vehicle seen in the exterior video. Also, damage to the building left trailing wires which were visible in both videos. The interior video also showed a tree line that was visible on satellite imagery. Reuters was not able to independently verify the date the videos were filmed.
Monday’s incursion, apparently involving armored vehicles, was the biggest raid into Russia since the war began 15 months ago, though details including the number of fighters involved, their affiliation, and the extent of any clashes, could not be independently confirmed.
Russian authorities evacuated residents from the region’s Graivoron district after the raiding forces claimed to have captured the border town of Kozinka and several others.
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A senior aide to the Ukrainian President said Kyiv had nothing to do with an armed operation in Russia’s Belgorod region on Monday.
The Russian defense ministry blamed the Ukrainian authorities for the attack saying saboteurs were seeking to deflect attention from Russia’s supposed capture of the city of Bakhmut. It also claimed its forces had surrounded the enemy fighters and defeated them with “air strikes, artillery fire, and active action by border units”.
“The remnants of the nationalists were pushed back to Ukrainian territory, where they continued to be hit by gunfire until they were completely eliminated,” it added.
RDK appeared to confirm on social media that its forces would be withdrawing, saying “One day we’ll come to stay.”
Videos of RDK fighters’ exploits continue to surface on social media, however, making it uncertain whether they are still present in the area or not.
Another video of the BTR-82A which was captured from Russian Federation forces by the Russian Volunteer Corps yesterday near the Grayvoron border checkpoint. pic.twitter.com/egOLHiej5T
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) May 23, 2023
Kyiv had said it was watching the situation but “has nothing to do with it”, though some of its denials were pitched with apparent irony, to mimic past Russian denials of a role in separatist movements in Ukraine.
Ukraine also denied responsibility for a raid in March, when one of the groups, which Moscow said consisted of far-right Russian extremists managed by Ukrainian intelligence, mounted an incursion into another border region.
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The Russian Volunteer Corps is a group that says they represent armed Russian resistance to the Kremlin regime. It was founded by Russian nationals last August and comprises Russians who have been fighting in and for Ukraine against the regime in their own country. The group has also been active over the border in Russian territory and claimed responsibility for a raid there in March as well as the recent operation in Belgorod.
Ukrainian military intelligence agency says the RDK is an independent underground group inside Russia that also has a unit in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion. The Foreign Legion says it has nothing to do with the RDK.