Arepresentative of a Russian anti-Kremlin militia that crossed from Ukraine into the Russian oblast of Belgorod has said that it was acting on the request of local residents who “want peace.”
The Freedom for Russia Legion has said it had overrun the settlement of Kozinka and sent units into the town of Grayvoron. Reports of the group’s clashes with Russian security forces, the evacuations of villages by Russian authorities, and the group’s drone strikes on the FSB and Internal Affairs Ministry buildings in Belgorod have added to tensions in Russia’s border area often targeted since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.
In a clip tweeted by Ukrainian Internal Affairs advisor Anton Gerashchenko, one member of the Legion, which consists of former Russian Army members and other volunteers, explained in an interview his group’s actions which have spurred Russia’s Investigative Committee to open a terrorism investigation.
“We know that the Russian army does not have the most professional armed forces even though it was thought to be the second largest army in the world,” said the representative whose call sign is Caesar.
He said Russia’s military prowess was a “bluff” and that its personnel often “mess up the coordinates,” referring to a Russian Su-34 accidentally bombing the city in April “as it slept.”
“We were even approached by the people of Belgorod with a request to conduct a peacekeeping operation on the territory of the region because of course, they are tired of being bombed,” he said.
When asked to specify what he meant by a “peacekeeping operation”, he replied, “It’s a demilitarization of the Belgorod region. People are tired of war and want peace.”
Newsweek has not been able to verify the authenticity of the clip shared by Gerashchenko.
The raids on Monday also reportedly involved the Russian Volunteer Corps which says it fights for Ukraine, although Ukrainian military officials say it is independent.
On Tuesday, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod oblast said drones were shot down by air defenses over the city and other parts of the region, with no reports as yet of casualties.
The response in the Russian information space to the cross-border clashes suggested that the attacks took commentators by surprise, the Institute for the Study of War said on Monday. The Washington D.C.-based think tank described how Russian commentators reacted with “panic, factionalism and incoherency” which is typical “when it experiences significant informational shocks.”
Ivan Fomin, a democracy fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said that the attacks could diminish Vladimir Putin’s approval among certain demographics, but could also boost support for his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“The most pro-war factions of Russian society may view these attacks as further evidence of the Kremlin’s weakness, thus causing Putin’s popularity among them to decline,” he told Newsweek, adding that it could benefit hawkish figures such as Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and military blogger, Igor Girkin.
“At the same time, these attacks could reinforce support for the war. Up until now, Putin has struggled to adequately convey to Russians the reasons for the war and its objectives, and thus convince enough people to voluntarily risk their lives in Ukraine,” said Fomin.
“However, if he can demonstrate the infiltration of Russian territory by raid parties from Ukraine, it may help him sell the narrative of Russia being under attack and acting in self-defense.”
Newsweek has contacted the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries for comment by email.
“Ivan Fomin, a democracy fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said that the attacks could diminish Vladimir Putin’s approval among certain demographics, but could also boost support for his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
It doesn’t really matter what the ruskie are thinking. The important thing is that the world now knows how vulnerable mafia land really is. A hint for bat virus land. And, the humiliation is delicious.
By the way, I keep hearing from Belarusians that they want to be invaded by the AFU to get rid of both Luka and the cockroaches.
I’m always confused by Belarussians, the percent of Belarussians that now speak their own language is down to just 4% and those folks live in small villages and are very old.
Except for the brave ones, fighting for Ukraine and the few partisans, the majority seem to be lethargic ruskie-like serfs.