As news outlets rushed to catch up with social media in covering the spate of reports about an incursion into the Russia Federation’s (RF) Belgorod Oblast, Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Directorate (HUR) released an address to Russian soldiers in Russian.
“You have a choice: die or save your life,” Budanov told the Russian soldiers, referring them to the state project called “I want to live,” a call-in service that explains to RF soldiers how to surrender.
“It's only going to get worse from here. You have a choice – die or save your life,” Ukrainian Intelligence Chief, Major General Kyrylo #Budanov addressed to the Russian military, urging them to surrender under protection of the Ukrainian program “I Want to Live”. pic.twitter.com/clLKvSYosP— KyivPost (@KyivPost) May 22, 2023
If Budanov’s past experience with psyops is any indication, the two events might be related. The HUR chief has been a thorn in the side of Moscow, which has tried him in absentia for terrorism, since 2016, when he allegedly led a commando raid in occupied Crimea. Since then he has escaped assassination attempts on more than one occasion.
For weeks now Russian analysts have been predicting a Ukrainian strike into the Belgorod Oblast. Among these analysts are Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary group Wagner, and arch-nationalist Igor Strelkov, who was a former Russian military intelligence officer responsible in large part for Russia’s 2014 incursions into Crimea and the Donbas.
Even the leaked “Discord” Pentagon documents alleged that President Volodymyr Zelensky had discussed the possibility of occupying villages in the Russian Federation to use as leverage in any future negotiations.
The May 22 incursion by what Russia’s Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov described as “a sabotage and reconnaissance group of the Ukrainian armed forces,” has generated so much media attention so quickly, that many analysts are beginning to suspect either a diversionary attack or merely an elaborate psyops ploy.
Simultaneously, the Svoboda Rossiya (Liberty of Russia) Legion, a group of anti-Putin Russians fighting alongside the Ukrainians published a call to their fellow citizens to rebel against “the Kremlin dictatorship.”
In an interview with ABC News earlier this year, Budanov coyly said that he’s “very glad to see” attacks on Russian territory, even though he cannot claim responsibility.
When asked if he expected more attacks deep inside Russia, the HUR chief responded, “deeper and deeper.”
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