The Russian Ministry of Defense was forced to withdraw military units from the front line to protect Belgorod near the border with Ukraine, which was attacked by Russian volunteers from the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), the Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR), and the Siberian Battalion, Bloomberg reported.

Fighting between the Russian military and pro-Ukrainian Russian volunteer formations has been going on for some time in the Kursk and Belgorod regions. The anti-Kremlin volunteer militia groups took responsibility for the latest attacks on Belgorod.

Before the attacks, the Russian anti-Putin volunteers announced their intentions to intensify the strikes on social networks and called on Belgorod Governor Gladkov to launch a full evacuation of civilians in the region.

The LSR published an intercepted telephone conversation of a resident of the Belgorod region, during which he claims that the Russian army is bombing local villages with guided aerial bombs.

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So far, Gladkov has reported that 16 people were killed and about 100 injured because of fighting last week, adding that “we are evacuating a large number of villages.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu later claimed that thousands of Ukrainian troops had been killed or wounded trying to capture border towns in the Belgorod and Kursk regions during eight days of fighting. According to his information, more than 50 tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as a helicopter, were destroyed during the clashes.

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The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has yet to comment on this information.

Ukraine claims that attacks inside Russia are carried out by Russian volunteer battalions that operate according to their own battle plans and are independent of the Ukrainian government and the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).

The attacks on Belgorod are forcing Russia to withdraw combat units from the front line to defend the city, a person close to the Kremlin told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity.

The spokesperson from the agency said that “on the territory of Russia the war is going on.”

Meanwhile, most people in Belgorod continue to support Putin, says a local resident: “But among my friends the attitude toward the war and Putin hasn’t changed,” he said. “We understand who started it all and that this is the answer to that.”

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