Russia: Russia claims to have used aviation and artillery to annihilate border attackers

MOSCOW: Russia said on Tuesday it had deployed jets and artillery to destroy an armed group that entered its border from Ukraine, while the Kremlin called on the army to prevent any repeat attacks.
The armed incursion was the most serious since Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine began last year, prompting the Kremlin to express “deep concern” and the evacuation of nine villages in the southern Belgorod region.
The Defense Ministry’s announcement that it has used the air force and artillery on Russian territory represents an unprecedented domestic use of force since the start of the military campaign in Ukraine l ‘last year. Regional authorities said 12 civilians were injured.
“During the anti-terrorist operation, nationalist formations were blocked and destroyed by airstrikes and artillery fire,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“The remaining (combatants) were pushed back into Ukrainian territory, where they continued to be hit by fire until they were completely eliminated,” the ministry said.
The Kremlin has expressed “deep concern” after bomb strikes forced civilians in border villages to flee.
Local authorities said the Belgorod region had come under sustained artillery and mortar fire during fighting with a group they said had crossed over from Ukraine.
Moscow said Russian forces killed more than 70 Ukrainian fighters and destroyed four armored vehicles, but AFP was unable to independently verify these claims.
‘Deep concern’
Vyacheslav, governor of Belgorod Gladkov said civilians have been evacuated from nine border villages in the region, which has already faced bombings that have killed dozens of people since Moscow launched its offensive last year.
“What happened yesterday is a source of deep concern and confirms once again that Ukrainian militants continue their activities against our country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Members of Russia’s anti-Kremlin Freedom Legion claimed responsibility for the incursion into Belgorod, while kyiv denied any involvement.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar said: “We are not waging war on foreign territories.”
In a video broadcast by a Telegram channel claiming to represent the anti-Kremlin group, a camouflaged spokesman, surrounded by armed men in fatigues, said on Monday: “Russia will be free!” — a slogan frequently used by Russian opposition activists.
Security operations were continuing in border areas on Tuesday, Governor Gladkov said.
Several drones hit homes and a government building overnight, but no one was killed, the governor of Belgorod said as Ukraine’s leader visited the eastern frontline.
Gladkov added on Tuesday that it was too early for residents who fled to return and said authorities would give the go-ahead when it was safe.
Guerrilla movement’
On Monday, Russia said its troops were fighting a “sabotage” group from Ukraine and introduced an “anti-terrorist regime” in the Belgorod region, a first since Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine began in February 2022.
The British Ministry of Defense noted that “Russia faces an increasingly serious multi-domain security threat in its border regions, with losses of combat aircraft, improvised explosive device attacks on railroads and now direct partisan action”.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhaylo Podolyak has suggested Russian “guerrilla groups” may be responsible.
“The only driving political force in a tightly-knit totalitarian country is always armed guerrillas,” he said on Monday.
The “anti-terrorist regime” grants special powers to the security services and involves the application of a number of restrictions and measures, including the strengthening of security and the surveillance of communications.
A similar regime was in place in Chechnya between 1999 and 2009, when Russian authorities fought insurgents during Moscow’s second military campaign in the mountainous region.
The attack on the Russian region was reported ahead of a widely expected Ukrainian offensive, although President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country was not yet ready.
Zelensky visits the front
Russia has reinforced hundreds of kilometers of front line with tank barriers, trenches and troops.
Zelensky visited on Tuesday Ukrainian troops on the front line in the eastern region of Donetsk, where Russian forces have been concentrating their efforts to seize territory.
“Every day on the battlefield, Ukrainian marines prove themselves to be a powerful force that destroys the enemy, liberates Ukrainian land and performs the toughest tasks in the toughest conditions,” Zelensky said.
“And we need more of this force. So, starting today, we are significantly increasing the potential of the marines and creating a marine corps,” Zelensky said.
Ukrainian troops held off Russian forces around Vugledar during Moscow’s winter offensive which gave the Kremlin only limited gains in the battle-scarred Donetsk region.


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