“We are Russians like you. We want our children to grow up in peace," says a heavily armed man in a video posted yesterday on Twitter to claim an incursion into Russian territory from Ukraine and the invasion of a border town. Like his four companions on the recording, he belongs to the Russian Freedom Legion, a group of Russian volunteers fighting against Moscow with the Ukrainian army. "It's time to put an end to the Kremlin dictatorship," he says.
Earlier, Russia had denounced the incursion into its Belgorod region by a group of Ukrainian saboteurs. "Russia's armed forces, with the Border Guard and the FSB are taking measures to liquidate the enemy," said Viacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod.
In the skirmishes, in various towns in the region, there were at least eight injuries among the civilian population.
But the Ukrainian government denied having anything to do with it, blaming the action on two groups of Russian volunteers opposed to the Kremlin fighting alongside the Ukrainian army, the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Russian Freedom Legion. The goal is to create "a security zone" that protects Ukrainian civilians, said Andri Yusov of Ukraine's military intelligence.
In fact, these two formations claimed on Telegram and other social networks that they were carrying out combat actions in Belgorod and Bryansk, Russian border regions with Ukraine.
Russia's Freedom Legion claimed it had invaded a border town, Kozinka, for the first time since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. In addition, he had sent units to the city of Graivoron.
“We are not your enemies. Unlike Putin's zombies, we do not harm civilians and do not use them for our purposes," the Russian Freedom Legion said on Telegram.
In another video, the Russian Volunteer Corps said it is the third time they have entered Russian territory from Ukraine. The first was on March 2, through the neighboring Bryansk region.
For the Kremlin, however, it is all a diversionary maneuver to divert attention from Bakhmut, which Russia calls Artiomovsk. This Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that its troops had taken Bakhmut after months of fighting. The Ukrainian authorities have denied this and say the battle continues. "We fully understand the purpose of such sabotage... to minimize the political effect of the loss of Artiomovsk," said Dimitri Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin.