Rarity in Ukraine War: An Attack Inside Russia

Independent militia group appears to be behind the assault
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2023 6:24 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2023 7:01 AM CDT
Rarity in Ukraine War: An Attack Inside Russia
A Ukrainian soldier in a trench at the frontline near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, May 22, 2023. Separately, pro-Ukrainian militia groups have launched attacks inside Russia.   (AP Photo/Libkos)

Some of the latest reports about fighting in the Ukraine-Russia war have a rare twist: They're describing an assault inside Russia. It appears that independent militia groups are behind the attacks in the border region of Belgorod. Ukraine insists that its own army is not involved, though a spokesman for President Volodymyr Zelensky says leaders in Kyiv are watching the events "with interest and studying the situation," reports the New York Times. The BBC reports that two pro-Ukraine paramilitary groups, called the Liberty of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, are responsible. Much is murky about the situation, notes France 24, but it appears the groups are made up of Russian mercenaries who want to overthrow Vladimir Putin.

The question is whether the groups truly acted on their own or with some guidance from Ukrainian officers. The Liberty of Russia Legion in particular claimed on social media to have "liberated" the border village of Kozinka. Videos surfaced showing armored vehicles in various other border villages. The Russian governor of the region has confirmed the attacks and said a counterattack to oust the forces was underway. “The cleaning of the territory by the Ministry of Defense together with law enforcement agencies continues,” Vyacheslav Gladkov said on the messaging app Telegram. The development comes after the Discord leaks revealed that Zelensky has floated the idea of launching ground attacks in Russia. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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