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Russian officials have reported renewed conflicts and another attack in the border region of Belgorod. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly been briefed regarding the attack and resulting casualties in the Grayvoronsky district near the border with Ukraine. Officials in Kyiv have denied the attack claiming that Russian citizens from 2 paramilitary groups were responsible for the attack.
Despite the lack of details and conflicting accusations, the attack is being reported as the largest armed strike in the area since the war began last year. According to the governor for the oblast where the attack occurred, at least 8 Russians have been injured with 2 requiring treatment at hospitals.
In a televised statement, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said, “The situation remains extremely tense. A sabotage and reconnaissance group, the Ministry of Defense an all law enforcement agencies have entered the territory to carry out combat missions to protect our country.” Residents in the area where much of the fighting is taking place have also been evacuated to prevent additional casualties, as reported by Zerohedge.
Gladkov also said that Russian authorities are “completing a house tour of the border villages” to check for casualties and protect the population as much as possible. Reports are beginning to emerge that many of the attackers have been killed.
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The Kremlin is claiming that the incident is a cross-border attack from Ukraine. TASS has reported the following details from the Russian side:
- The infiltration by Ukrainian saboteurs was reported by Gladkov. He said the Russian military, border guards and the servicemen of the National Guard and the Federal Security Service are taking “necessary measures to eliminate the enemy.”
- Before that, the governor said two people were injured in a shelling of the village of Glotovo of the Grayvoron District. He said one of the casualties, a woman, who suffered wounds from a mine explosion, had been taken to a hospital in serious condition. The other person, a man, was in a condition of medium gravity.
- The Kremlin later confirmed that a Ukrainian sabotage group had tried to force its way into the Belgorod Region, and the group is now being driven away from the Russian territory and eliminated.
- Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there are sufficient forces and equipment on the scene to combat the saboteurs. He said Putin had been briefed about the incident.
Despite the Kremlin’s accusations, Kyiv is denying that its forces had anything to do with the attack and is placing responsibility on a group of anti-Putin Russians who claim to be taking accountability for the incident, although the organization, the Kyiv-based Russian Armed Opposition Political Centre, clearly works with Ukraine.
According to Aleksey Baranovsky, a representative of the organization which is the political branch of the Freedom of Russia Legion, the group wanted to “liberate our motherland from the tyranny of Putin,” and claimed that the operation had begun Sunday night.
The group took to Telegram to say that it had “fully liberated the settlement of Kozinka of Belgorod region. [The] first groups have entered Grayvoron.”
Officials in Kyiv have continuously insisted that the organization acted independently and reiterated that the Ukrainian government was in no way involved in the attack. Putin’s office, however, has claimed that the attack is simply a Ukrainian effort to divert attention from Russia’s successful defeat of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut over the weekend.
Presidential spokesman Dimitry Peskov said of the attack, “We perfectly understand the purpose of such sabotage – to divert attention from the Bakhmut direction, to minimize the political effect of the loss of Artemovsk [Bakhmut] by the Ukrainian side.”
Cross-border attacks by Ukrainian forces have become more common in recent months while Russian forces have focused on advancing control of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.
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