Espreso. Global

No Ukrainians enter Belgorod region on May 22 

24 May, 2023 Wednesday

The Ukrainian military didn't take part in the May 22 infiltration operation in the Belgorod region, a senior Ukrainian official told The New York Times

This is reported by The New York Times.

It was noted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces provided support to the formations that entered the territory of the Russian region and covered the Ukrainian border in case of a Russian counterattack. The source emphasized that not a single Ukrainian soldier entered the territory of Russia. 

The publication's source claims that the units that infiltrated the Belgorod region suffered losses, but not so significant that it affected their combat capability. Any other details were disclosed. 

According to The New York Times, the fighters who claimed credit for a rare attack close across the Ukrainian border in Russia's Belgorod region are members of a volunteer unit made up of Russian citizens fighting alongside Ukraine's military against their own country.

The Free Russia Legion was founded in August of last year to allow Russians who oppose Moscow's war in Ukraine to pick up guns and fight alongside Ukrainians. These anti-Kremlin Russian volunteers have predominantly fought on Ukraine's front lines, primarily in and around Bakhmut.

That changed this week, when the Legion stated that its fighters had crossed the border and 'liberated' many communities inside Russia alongside Russians from another group called the Russian Volunteer Corps. The Free Russia Legion reported on Tuesday that fighting in the Belgorod region was still ongoing, despite Russia's Defense Ministry saying that all fighters who had not been killed had been pushed back into Ukraine.

“This is the first operation of the Legion on Russian territory, and in the future, the scale of our actions will only increase,” a Russian fighter known as Caesar who took part in the mission said.

Caesar, a private with the Free Russia Legion, was responding to questions provided through the group's press officer. The Russian Volunteer Corps, which claimed to have joined the Free Russia Legion in this week's mission, had previously claimed credit for a smaller-scale infiltration into Russia in March.

Until recently, the Free Russia Legion had garnered little recognition, owing in part to the soldiers' and their families' fear of retaliation from Russia, but also to Ukraine's unwillingness to promote the feats of soldiers whose home nation had killed so many Ukrainians.

Hundreds of Russians have been deployed to the front lines in eastern Ukraine, but the Ukrainian military has not revealed how many Russians are fighting on the Ukrainian side.

Russians fighting for Ukraine have a variety of motivations. Some indicated earlier this year that they had already been living in Ukraine when the crisis began and felt compelled to defend their chosen motherland. Others, many of whom had no military training, traveled into Ukraine after the war began and enlisted to fight.

According to the Russian army, joining is difficult. They go through many rounds of background checks and a polygraph after filling out a comprehensive application. Ukrainians have a high level of distrust. According to Ukrainian officials, Russian intelligence officers have made repeated attempts to infiltrate the Free Russia Legion.

A Russian military ministry spokeswoman reported that the fighters had been forced back and that scores of people had been killed.

However, Caesar stated that fighting continued all day Tuesday and that a Russian infantry company had been wiped out. His assertions could not be independently verified. The military was awaiting information, including footage from drones, concerning the fate of the Russian infantry company, according to a senior Ukrainian officer.

“The goal of the operation begun yesterday was the creation of a demilitarized zone between Russia and Ukraine, the elimination of fighters who serve the Putin regime and a demonstration to the people of Russia that it is possible to create resistance and fight against the Putin regime inside Russia. These goals were successfully achieved,” Caesar wrote. 

  • On May 22, the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps announced that they had liberated the settlements of Kozinka and Gora-Podol in the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation as part of the creation of a demilitarized zone on the border with Russia, and that advanced units had entered Graivoron. A counterterrorism operation was introduced in the region and nuclear munitions are being evacuated.

  • Late in the evening of May 22, Russian media reported that administrative buildings in Belgorod had been hit by drones, including the FSB and the Interior Ministry, and that drones had also been reported to have hit administrative buildings in Graivoron and Borisovka.

  • On the morning of May 23, the governor of the Belgorod region of Russia, Gladkov, said that residents of the Graivoron district should not return home yet. Peskov is 'deeply concerned.'

  • Russia claims to have killed 70 participants in the events in the Belgorod region and driven the rest into Ukraine. The Russian Volunteer Corps says it has no casualties.

  • The United States cannot confirm the information about the alleged use of American weapons transferred to Ukraine by the forces that invaded the territory of Russia's Belgorod region.

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