Anti-Putin regime fighters launched more cross-border attacks into Russia on Friday, as a campaign of “partisan” raiding against Russian border towns and settlements accelerated.
In a video statement, spokesmen from the pro-democracy Freedom of Russia Legion (FRL) took credit for morning attacks against Russian government troops stationed in and around the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka, some three kilometers on the Russian side of the international border, adjacent to Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region.
Fighting was in progress in and around the village, and the “freedom fighters” had suffered moderate casualties The wounded were evacuated to hospital, the FRL statement said.
Novaya Tavolzhanka is in Russia’s western Belgorod Oblast and adjacent to the town Shebekino, scene of a cross-border attack on Thursday. Anti-Kremlin fighters backed by tanks and armored infantry carriers hit the Russian border town Grayvoron, some 80 kilometers west of Novaya Tavolzhanka, on May 23.
Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday afternoon claimed local defense forces in Shebekino soundly defeated the anti-government fighters, killing more than 100 and putting the rest to flight.
The Friday “partisan” raid against Novaya Tavolzhanka, backed by tanks and artillery, struck only a few hundred meters from where Russian army spokesmen had claimed all anti-government fighters had been wiped out the day previously.
Russian military Telegram channels and official government media generally confirmed the fact of the Novaya Tavolzhanka border incursion. Pro-Russia “journalist” German Kulikovsky in his blog Starshe Eddy on Friday said two Ukrainian army tanks drove up to the border and opened fire on civilian buildings in Novaya Tavolzhanka, after which “viruses” (anti-Putin infantry) advanced on the town.
The independent Russian news platform Astra on Friday said that a Ukrainian army artillery strike against the village of Maslova Pristan, about 15 kilometers inside Russia and less than 5 kilometers from Shebekino, killed 2 civilians and injured 2 more after shells hit near their automobiles. Regular army Ukrainian artillery using howitzer shells were targeting the road connecting Maslova Pristan and Shebekino, the report said.
A report by the Kremlin-operated RT television channel claimed Ukrainian artillery hit a Russian border checkpoint near Maslova Pristan and showed images of smoke rising in the distance. RF security troops had locked down roads leading to the towns, the report said.
An LFR statement said the civilians died after Russian artillery incorrectly identified a Renault sedan for a military vehicle operated by anti-Putin fighters and destroyed it. Video published by the LFR showed anti-government infantry in a firefight and at times using grenades. Other images showed relaxed and smiling LFR infantry driving down a rural road aboard a BTR armored personnel carrier. The post claimed the vehicle was travelling in Belgorod Oblast.
Russian officials led by Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov have repeatedly painted the cross-border attacks as unimportant pinpricks easily handled by local defense forces, only to see the “partisans” launch a follow-up raid. On Friday Gladkov in a statement said the Ukrainian shell strikes were continuing and Russian army units were moving to intercept the “terrorists.”
Ukrainian government officials have denied Kyiv has anything to do with the “partisans,” but that Ukraine supports a democratic Russian government and the goals of the anti-Putin fighters.
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