Ukrainian "Sabotage" Units Enter Russia
According to both Russian and Ukrainian sources, Ukrainian “sabotage” units have crossed the border into the Belgorod Oblast, near the town of Grayvoron, southwestern part of the region, and are engaged with Russian military and security forces.
"A sabotage and reconnaissance group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine entered the territory of the Grayvoron district," Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov stated on social media.
"The armed forces of the Russian Federation, together with the border service, the National Guard and the FSB, are taking the necessary measures to eliminate the enemy. I will report the details," he added.
Map from pro-Russian Telegram
This was confirmed by the Kremlin, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying ""The Defense Ministry, the FSB and the Border Service have reported to the Russian president - the supreme commander-in-chief - about a Ukrainian sabotage group’s attempt to break into the Belgorod Region. Work is underway to drive the saboteurs from Russia and eliminate the group. There are enough forces and equipment on the ground to do that."
Peskov claimed the operation was an attempt to drive attention away from the recent capture of Bakhmut, stating ""We understand perfectly well that the goal of such subversive activities is to divert attention from the Bakhmut area and reduce the political impact of Ukraine’s loss of Artyomovsk [Bakhmut]."
Mykhailo Podolyak, Advisor to Ukrainian President Zelensky, posted on Twitter that the attacks were not the responsibility of Kyiv's troops, but rather an underground guerilla movement.
"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," he stated, adding that "As you know, tanks are sold at any Russian military store, and underground guerrilla groups are composed of Russian citizens."
A Telegram page reportedly associated with the armed anti-Putin "Freedom of Russia" group posted "Residents of Russia! We are Russians just like you. We are distinguished only by the fact that we no longer wanted to justify the actions of criminals in power and took up arms to defend our and your freedom."
Pro-Russian commentators have stated that 2 tanks, 1 armored personnel carrier and 9 armored vehicles of the Ukrainian military had attacked and crossed a Russian border control station. These numbers have yet to be independently confirmed, but open source media shows armored vehicles and military helicopters moving along roads geolocated to be in the area in question.
Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine's military intelligence directorate, told reported that "yes, today the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Legion of Freedom of Russia, consisting of citizens of the Russian Federation, launched an operation to liberate these territories of the Belgorod region from the so-called Putin regime and push back the enemy in order to create a certain security zone to protect the Ukrainian civilian population,” referring to two armed units of pro-Ukrainian Russians that have been overtly and covertly fighting on the side of Kyiv.
Cover photo credit; Aris Messinis / AFP via Getty Images