According to a Russian official, the Russian military and security forces continued on Tuesday to repel an alleged incursion by Ukrainian saboteurs. First reported the day before in a Russian border region.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region on the frontier with Ukraine, says that the military and security forces continued to sweep the area surrounding Graivoron. Where the alleged attack occurred on Monday.
Gladkov implored Monday’s evacuees to remain in their current locations and not return to their homes just yet. “We will let you know immediately… when it is safe,” Gladkov said. “Security agencies are taking all necessary measures. We are awaiting the conclusion of the counterterrorism operation.”
Kyiv has refuted the allegations, blaming Ukrainian-supporting Russian guerrilla groups. Meanwhile, both accounts of the events could not be independently confirmed.
It is not the first time that Russia has alleged an incursion by Ukrainian saboteurs. But it is the first time that the operation to counter the incursion has persisted for a second day. Highlighting the difficulties Moscow is facing during its stalled invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia is facing an increasingly serious multi-domain security threat in its border regions. With losses of combat aircraft, attacks by improvised explosive devices on rail lines, and now direct partisan action,” the British Defence Ministry tweeted on Tuesday.
Russian Volunteer Corps and the “Freedom of Russia” Legion
The incident was attributed by Ukrainian officials to Russian armed guerrilla organisations. Andrii Cherniak, a representative of Ukraine’s intelligence services, asserted that the attack was perpetrated by Russian nationals affiliated with the Russian Volunteer Corps and the “Freedom of Russia” Legion.
The Russian Volunteer Corps claimed in a Telegram message that it had again breached the Russian frontier, after claiming to have done so in early March.
The Russian Volunteer Corps characterises itself as “a volunteer fighting formation on Ukraine’s side.” It is unclear if the group has ties to the Ukrainian military, as little is known about it. Likewise, the “Freedom of Russia” Legion shares the same characteristics.
In addition to the purported incursion, Gladkov reported multiple drone attacks on Graivoron and other Belgorod region settlements on Monday night. The attacks caused damage to buildings and a fire, but no casualties. Tuesday morning, air defence systems in the vicinity shot down two additional drones.
The southwest Russian region of Belgorod, along with its neighbouring region of Bryansk and several others. Which has experienced sporadic spillover from the 15-month conflict. Border towns and villages are regularly subjected to shelling and drone attacks.