Russia said Tuesday that it “crushed” with its air force and artillery the group that attacked the Belgorod border region from Ukraine the day before, the most serious incursion into its territory since the start of the conflict.
On Monday, fighters from Ukraine attacked several towns in the Belgorod region, where there was also artillery fire and drone strikes that forced residents to flee.
The Kremlin expressed its “deep concern” and urged redoubling “efforts” to prevent these incursions, which add to a series of attacks on Russian soil, just as Ukraine claims to be preparing a major offensive.
He Russian Ministry of Defense affirmed this Tuesday that it repelled the incursion after an operation of an unprecedented scale that involved the air force and artillery.
“In the anti-terrorist operation, the nationalist formations [ucranianas] were blocked and crushed by aerial bombardment and artillery fire,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The rest of the nationalists were repelled to the territory of Ukraine, where the shelling […] continued until their total elimination,” added the ministry, which claimed that “more than 70 Ukrainian terrorists” they were shot down.
This information could not be verified at this time.
Russia accused Ukraine of masterminding the raid, but Kyiv denied it. “We are not waging any war on foreign territories,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliaralluding to an “internal Russian crisis”.
Several Russians questioned in Moscow by AFP expressed their fear of new attacks.
“The entire Russian nation is anxious at the idea that (the attacks) could take place further away, in Moscow,” he even declared. Alexandera 42-year-old engineer who preferred to omit his last name.
The Ukrainians questioned in Kyiv were more interested in the fighting on their territory.
“Our military must take back what the Russians have taken, the cities of Ukraine. We don’t need Russia,” said Olga, 26, who works at a day care center.
The operation was claimed on a Telegram channel by the “Freedom for Russia Legion”, a group of Russians fighting on the Ukrainian side and who on other occasions already claimed to have carried out incursions in the same region.
Another related group would have participated in the operation, the “Russian Volunteer Corps”.
“What happened yesterday [lunes] raises deep concern and demonstrates, once again, that Ukrainian fighters continue their activities against our country,” the spokesman for the Russian Presidency told reporters. Dimitri Peskov.
“This requires more efforts on our part, continuing efforts and the special military operation [en Ucrania] continue so that this does not happen again,” he added.
The Governor of Belgorod, Viacheslav Gladkovdeclared that several towns, including the city of Graivoron, capital of the homonymous district, suffered “numerous” shelling by artillery, multiple rocket launchers and drones.
Nine towns were evacuated, explained Gladkov, who reported at least 12 wounded civilians.
In response to the raid, Russia on Monday decreed an “anti-terrorist” regime in the entire Belgorod region, a protocol that grants the authorities more powers to carry out armed operations, carry out controls among the population and carry out evacuations. It was used in Chechnya from 1999 to 2009.
putin is silent
At the moment, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, did not rule on the raid. During a ceremony of delivery of decorations this Tuesday in the Kremlin, he limited himself to speaking in a general way about the conflict in Ukraine.
“Yes, Russia is facing difficult times, but this is a particular moment for our consolidation,” he said, reiterating that Moscow defends the Russian population of the Ukrainian Donbas.
On Monday, the Kremlin accused Kyiv of having orchestrated the operation with the aim of “diverting attention” of the capture of the city of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, claimed by Moscow.
Last weekend, Russian forces claimed the capture of that devastated city in the battle for its conquest, the longest and deadliest of the conflict.
Kyiv denied the loss of Bakhmut, and on Tuesday stated that “the battles for the city […] continue”.
Furthermore, the president Volodymyr Zelensky visited the front line in the Donetsk region (east) on Tuesday, the scene of heavy fighting.