Espreso. Global

Belgorod raid: how the operation could harm Ukraine

25 May, 2023 Thursday

On May 25, representatives of the Russian Volunteer Corps claimed that they had once again entered the territory of Russia. As proof, they posted a video of the Russian Post office in the village of Glotovo in the Grayvoron district of Russia’s Belgorod region

Let me remind you that on May 22, the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion announced the "liberation" of several settlements in the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation from Putin's government. 

It is noteworthy that official Kyiv did not recognize its involvement in this raid on Russian territory. Moreover, it denies that the above-mentioned groups are subordinate to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, photographs and videos taken during the raid in the Belgorod region were published online, showing that American military equipment was used in the operation, which was transferred to the Ukrainian side as part of military and technical support for our country.

The United States has already commented on the use of its weapons by the forces that invaded the territory of Russia's Belgorod region. According to Miller, the United States has seen some reports, which are spreading, in particular, on social media, claiming that "weapons provided by the United States were used to attack" the territory of the Russian Federation. "I can say that we are currently skeptical about the veracity of these statements," he said.

The official also noted that the US government has neither received nor approved a request from Ukraine to transfer weapons to third parties and paramilitary organizations outside the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

In turn, the UK Ministry of Defense believes that Russia will use the latest incidents on its border to promote its official version of being a "victim of war." "Russia will almost certainly use these incidents to support the official narrative that it is the victim in the war," the British Ministry of Defense said.

Meanwhile, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian President’s Office, emphasized that Ukraine had nothing to do with the events in Russia's Belgorod region on May 22.

At the same time, the spokesperson for the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine Andriy Yusov called the events that took place in the Belgorod region of Russia on May 22 a "security strip" to protect Ukrainians.

"Thus, today the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion, consisting of citizens of the Russian Federation, launched an operation to liberate these territories of the Belgorod region from the so-called Putin regime and push back the enemy in order to create a certain security strip to protect the Ukrainian civilian population," he said.

In my opinion, the situation with the "raid" in the Belgorod region raises more questions than answers. In particular, it seems strange that groups that, according to the official version, are not subordinate to the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine and are internal forces of the Russian Federation, are using American equipment with Cossack crosses on it on the territory of Russia.

In addition, on May 17, two days before the operation in the Belgorod region, a photo of the commanders of both Russian units, taken on the territory of a secure facility of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, appeared on the pages of both structures and Russian oppositionist Ilya Ponomarev. It is unclear who could have authorized the photographing in the restricted area and the publication of these photos two days before the operation.

The above facts indicate the involvement of the RVC and the Freedom of Russia Legion in Ukrainian intelligence. Given that the versions of the events in the Belgorod region from the Office of the President and the Defense Ministry differ, this inconsistency in statements and actions frames the OP. It is unclear whether this operation was Kyrylo Budanov's own initiative or was coordinated with the General Staff.

It is worth noting that the raid in the Belgorod region took place on the eve of the announced meeting in the Ramstein format. The next meeting of defense ministers will take place today, May 25. At the meeting, the defense ministers will discuss strengthening Ukraine's air defense, providing ammunition, and transferring F-16 multi-role fighter jets.

The latter point is particularly important for Ukraine, as it is extremely difficult for us to obtain Western approval for the transfer of these particular aircraft. Therefore, in my opinion, conducting an operation with the use of American weapons on the territory of the Russian Federation does not play into Ukraine's hands in terms of providing us with new types of equipment.

Such actions, especially after the extremely difficult and important meetings of the President of Ukraine with our strategic partners on further military and technical assistance, including F-16 aircraft, are an unjustified risk. The terms and conditions of this assistance include clear warnings about its use, including its use on the territory of the Russian Federation. To put it mildly, this should be the subject of an internal investigation.

It is noteworthy that Ukrainian military analysts are more skeptical about this operation, because given the risks of disrupting the further transfer of heavy equipment to us, the game is not worth the candle.

In a comment to Telegraph, defense and security expert Oleh Starikov noted that the use of American equipment by the RVC and the Freedom of Russia Legion on Russian territory indicates an insufficient level of preparation for this operation. According to the expert, given the level of "hostilities" in the Belgorod region, there was no need for such weapons, and moreover, only Soviet models of equipment, weapons and equipment should have been used for this purpose, so that the version with "Russian guerrillas" who disarmed the local military would look more realistic.

"Now the main task for Ukraine will be to repel the information attack and defend its own version of events. If the scales are tilted not in favor of our scenario based on the totality of facts, there may be difficulties," the expert explained.

Exclusively for Espreso TV.

About the author. Dmytro Sniehyriov, columnist at Espreso TV.

The editorial staff do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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