LATEST: What We Know About the Attack on Russia’s Belgorod

A cross-border raid launched from Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region on Monday shot up a Russian border checkpoint, overran a village and by afternoon shoot outs were reportedly in progress between raider bands and Kremlin troops at two other locations as much as four kilometers inside Russia's Belgorod region.

Fighters from an organization called “The Russian Volunteer Corps” claimed responsibility for the attack, and in one of close to a dozen videos quickly published as the raid was in progress, called on the Russian nation to rise up against the “despotic” regime of President Vladimir Putin. 

The self-described Russian freedom fighters reportedly shot up a border checkpoint, overran the village of Kozinka adjacent to the Ukrainian border, and opened fire on Russian forces in the neighboring villages of Glotove and Gora-Podol, multiple reports on both Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels said. 

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The official Russian state television channel RT reported “Ukrainian saboteurs” had captured the village public events building, called the “House of Culture,” in Gora-Podol.

Russian troops and intelligence agents were seeking to “eliminate” a Ukrainian “sabotage” group that crossed the Russian border, regional government Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement.

Ukraine on Monday denied being involved in the incident. "Ukraine is watching the events in the Belgorod region of Russia with interest and is studying the situation, but has nothing to do with it," Ukrainian presidential advisor Mikhaylo Podolyak said.

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Gladkov later said eight people had been injured, adding that authorities were helping people leave the scene of the fighting.

In a first since the start of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian authorities introduced an "anti-terror regime" which gives special powers to security services and entails the enforcement of a number of restrictions and measures including beefed-up security and communications surveillance. 

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Russian troops and members from Russia’s secret police the FSB were “taking the necessary measures to eliminate the enemy.” The pro-Russia information platform Readovka claimed “the enemy took casualties,” but offered no evidence.

Skabakeeva, one of Russia’s top propagandists and lead presenter said on a special edition news program airing nationwide on Thursday afternoon, said: “The events in Belgorod are extremely worrying… a shocking and cruel battle is in progress.”

Video, images and social media accounts of the incursion flooded local Telegram channels in almost real-time, from both sides of the fighting. One photograph showed armed men holding up a flag from the “Belgorod People’s Republic” – an imagined and sarcastic name most often used by Ukrainians critical of Moscow as an ironic reference to Russia’s western province Belgorod Oblast.

Another photograph showed the flag hanging off a bridge purportedly well inside Russia.

Ilya Ponomarev, a spokesperson for the National Republican Army which is affiliated with The Russian Volunteer Corps, told Kyiv Post: “It’s very opportunistic. Moving forward where possible: There’s armored vehicles and tanks. The resistance is pretty limited because Russians don’t have enough troops on ground.”

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“Russia will need to send more troops and equipment. But there’s evidence that Russia is already evacuating people from [Belgorod Region].”

“I think this situation has made the Kremlin very nervous. They were unprepared.” 

Other content flashed across Telegram channels and regional news platforms showed Ukrainian tanks, light armored vehicles and pickup trucks and armed men all purportedly involved in the attacks. By late afternoon images surfaced of Russian light armored vehicles reportedly heading towards the border to fight back, and of giant queues of private vehicles heading eastward.

Videos geolocated to the town Gaivoron nearby showed a hornet’s nest of Russian aircraft including a Russian Mi-8 attack helicopter flying at rooftop level next to an apartment building and firing off defensive flares, a pair of Mi-28 helicopter gunships circling over the town center. The voiceover in an un-geolocated video said images of a Ka-52 gunship showed the aircraft heading west towards combat.

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Other posts surfacing in local social media reported unknown voices took over Belgorod Oblast radio channels and declared a public emergency, and artillery firing at unknown targets in the Gaivoron district.

Russian military blogger Igor Strelkov – an inveterate Putin critic wanted for his role in invading Ukraine in 2014 and the shootdown of the MH17 airliner the same year – said that his sources were telling him the attack force numbered less than 100 men and was a mix of Russians fighting the Putin regime, and the Kharkiv-recruited Ukrainian special operations unit Kraken, a volunteer formation heavily recruited from former commandoes and SWAT police living in Ukraine’s north-east.

Simon Pegov, a pro-Russia “war correspondent,” said the commotion on the border definitely took place, but it was probably not a major Ukrainian offense and much more likely a raid intended to distract Russia’s military leadership and create internet content embarrassing to the Kremlin.

“In the Belgorod region. We report only information received from sources close to the immediate events. Fighting on the borders is really going on, DRGs (raiding teams) most likely entered the territory of the Russian Federation – an operation is underway to block them and further destroy them. Enemy armored vehicles also understand participation in the operation,” Pegov wrote in his WarGonzo news channel.

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“But there is no information yet about the passage of armored groups through the tape (border). The situation is serious, but so far this cannot be called a large-scale offensive. Sources familiar with the situation report that the situation resembles a raid in the Bryansk region, organized more for information (propaganda) than for a real front-line effect,” Pegov said.

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Comments (5)

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Alan Taylor
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It's downright hilarious that Strelkov is utterly terrified of the Kraken.

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I support
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Now can some one kill the Wagner leader war criminal.

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Oscar wild
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Who knows the depth of connections with anti Putin groups in Russia. Maybe we are about to find out.

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Oscar wild
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Psychological warfare has finally come into the real. Scare the Russians put them off base. Just don't kill non combatants that is the line we can't cross we cannot become like them.

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Sviatoslav
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This could not be Ukraine. It could be an uprising by people wanting to join Ukraine with a new village for them (russians) (Anti kremlin people)

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