Russia has responded with anger to what it calls terror attacks against its border towns, as it comes to experience some of what it has been inflicting on Ukraine for the past year.
The town of Shebekino in Belgorod, a region of Russia bordering Ukraine’s Kharkiv, was shelled and struck with rockets and drones on Thursday, with Russia claiming an invasion of their territory by a force comprising of “two motorized companies with tanks”.
Video and images shared on Russian social media, allegedly recorded of the attacks, showed buildings burning. Among the weapons claimed to have been used in the strike by pro-Kyiv forces are Grad rockets, a 1960s Soviet-era truck-mounted multiple launch system used for area saturation attacks.
Counter-Invasion or Insurgency? Kremlin and Kyiv Trade Blame as Fighting Breaks Out in Russian Belgorod Regionhttps://t.co/B3PHsrQ5Ed
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 23, 2023
Russia claims to have repelled Thursday’s attack, saying they “thwarted another attempt by the Kiev regime to carry out a terror act against civilians”, but that Shebekino endured “endless” shelling. An official communication, reports The Times insisted no further enemy fighters remained on Russian soil.
If Russia’s official account — as published through its state-controlled media outlets — is to be believed, their forces killed 60 and destroyed six vehicles. Up to a dozen Russian civilians have been injured including two hit by a drone falling out of the sky, they claim.
Moscow’s official response to the fresh counter-attacks on its territory are conforming to a well-worn pattern, whereby it claims to be a victim of terror attacks achieved through the exact means its own armed forces use against Ukraine. Ukraine, for their part, also have a well-practiced response to attacks on Russian territory of denying responsibility and suggesting it may be the work of anti-Putin Russian citizen paramilitaries.
Countering recent claims by a British intelligence digest which claimed the commencement of incursions into Russia is forcing Moscow to withdraw men from the front line to defend their own border, the Kremlin was quick to insist the attacks would have no impact on its ability to pursue its war in Ukraine.
President Putin was even drawn to speak out personally on the situation, saying Thursday that “There is absolutely no doubt” of Russia’s victory and that the country was defending its “values” by invading neighbouring Ukraine.
Counteroffensive Will Trigger ‘Russian Withdrawal’ This Summer, Claims Ukraine Defence Ministerhttps://t.co/Cmg0gKNPEZ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 31, 2023
Thursday’s incursion is the second such raid of Belgorod in a fortnight, with a previous attack claimed by a group of Kyiv-supporting anti-Putin Russian citizens attacking the area. Some of the groups involved in this fighting have been linked to Neo-Nazi views. The leader of one group, the Free Russia Legion, has promised these actions are the beginning of something much greater, and promises to march on Moscow to overthrow Vladimir Putin once he has recruited enough paramilitary fighters.
A Free Russia Legion said of the plan: “We will keep performing these harassment raids to the point we have our own piece of Russian territory, so that real Russian sons and daughters, real patriots, will be able to join us… Once that happens we will quickly grow our force and numbers and it will end with the Kremlin campaign.”
Discussing the political makeup of his Legion, the fighter said while it recruited from across the political spectrum — he admits to previously having belonged to a right-wing designated terrorist group that wants to restore the monarchy in Russia to replace Putin’s regime but that he fights alongside anarchists and leftists — there were few liberals in the ranks. This, the Legion leader said, is because Liberals are “helpless” and weak, and have gone into hiding rather than step up to fight. “Liberals are all about peaceful rallies, with balloons and so on”, he is reported to have said.
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