Ukraine update: Fighting continues in Russia’s Belgorod region following Monday raid

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


Fighting in Russia’s Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border entered a second day on Tuesday following the largest incursion into Russia since the war began.

Details about Monday’s raid are unclear. Russia claimed that it was carried out by armed Ukrainian fighters. Britain’s Ministry of Defense, however, said that the perpetrators were likely anti-regime Russians.

Russian authorities evacuated residents from Belgorod’s Graivoron district after the raiding forces declared the capture of several border towns, including Kozinka, according to Reuters. Belgorod’s regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov told residents early on Tuesday that it was still not safe to return to their homes.

“The cleansing of the territory by the Ministry of Defence together with law enforcement agencies continues,” Gladkov said on the Telegram messaging service.

“I now appeal to the residents of the Graivoron district, who … temporarily left their homes, it is not possible to return yet,” he said.

Gladkov said that at least eight people had been wounded and that several buildings were damaged, including two that were targeted with drone strikes overnight. A Russian news channel reported that drones struck the Russian FSB security service in Belgorod city. One woman was reportedly killed and two other people were wounded during the panicked evacuation, according to Gladkov. 

 More than one group claimed responsibility for the raid, including the Freedom of Russia Legion. According to a First Post report, the Ukraine-based Russian paramilitary group led by opposition figure Ilya Pnomarav seeks to overthrow Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“Good morning everybody, except Putin’s henchmen. We have met the dawn on liberated territory, and are moving further on,” the group wrote in a Telegram post.

Another Ukraine-based Kremlin opposition group, the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), also claimed responsibility for the attack. The RVC published video footage late on Monday showing what it claimed was a captured Russian armored vehicle. The clip showed a fighter cover an identifying Russian “Z” symbol with a sticker bearing the RVC logo. Other videos and images circulating on Russian and Ukrainian social media channels appeared to show captured Russian service members and their identity documents.

Moscow blamed the attack on Ukrainian forces and said that investigators had launched a terrorism investigation.

Kyiv, in characteristic fashion, denied responsibility for the incursion while simultaneously mocking Russia.

“Ukraine is watching the events in the Belgorod region of Russiawith interest and studying the situation, but it has nothing to do with it,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in a tweet that appeared to deliberately mimic Russian denials of civilian attacks and atrocities committed in Ukraine. “As you know, tanks are sold at any Russian military store, and underground guerrilla groups are composed of Russian citizens,” he said.

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defense asserted that “Russia is facing an increasingly serious multi-domain security threat in its border regions, with losses of combat aircraft, improvised explosive device attacks on rail lines, and now direct partisan action” in its latest war assessment. “Russia will almost certainly use these incidents to support the official narrative that it is the victim in the war,” it added.


Kremlin officials accused Ukraine of carrying out the raid in an attempt to save face after Russia declared victory in the 10-month battle for Bakhmut on Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Wagner and Russian forces in Bakhmut as Russian media channels drew comparisons to the Red Army liberating Berlin in 1945.

“The myth that Artyomovsk is an unassailable fortress has been crushed,” an anchor said Sunday night on Russia’s leading state-run broadcaster Channel One in a reference to the old Soviet name for Bakhmut. “Those are historic events.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar on Monday reiterated that Ukrainian troops continued to hold parts of Bakhmut’s southwestern outskirts, according to reporting by the Associated Press.

The town located in Ukraine’s Donetsk region in the east, which had a pre-war population of 70,000, has been reduced to an unrecognizable wasteland in the bloodiest battle in the war to date. Given its destruction, the West has maintained that Bakhmut is of little value to the Kremlin. However, its capture would allow Russian forces to advance toward the larger cities of Siversk, Kostyantynivka, and Kramatorsk, and quite possibly the southeastern city of Dnipro.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military said that its forces shot down a Russian attack helicopter in the Donetsk region. Newsweek reported that Kyiv’s 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade said Monday that Ukrainian fighters targeted the aircraft with Western-supplied Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs).