Ukraine Says Anti-Putin Russians Attacked Russia

Moscow blames border incursion on Ukrainian saboteurs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 22, 2023 2:21 PM CDT

Russian officials claimed that Ukrainian military saboteurs launched an attack across the border Monday, wounding eight people in a small town. Kyiv officials denied any link with the group and blamed the fighting on a revolt by disgruntled Russians against the Kremlin. Neither version of events could be independently verified in an area that has witnessed sporadic spillover from the almost 15-month war in Ukraine, the AP reports. The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, said that a Ukrainian Armed Forces saboteur group entered the town of Graivoron, about three miles from the border. The town also came under Ukrainian artillery fire, he said.

Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said eight people were wounded and most residents had left the area, but the situation remained “tense.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed about the alleged saboteur incursion. An effort to "push them out from the Russian territory and liquidate them" was underway, he said. Peskov described the action as an attempt by Ukraine to divert attention from the eastern city of Bakhmut , which Moscow claimed to have captured after months of battle but where Kyiv says it is still fighting.

But Ukrainian military intelligence officials didn’t confirm that Kyiv had deployed saboteurs. Instead, they claimed that Russian citizens seeking regime change in Moscow were behind the Graivoron incursion. Ukraine intelligence representative Andrii Cherniak said Russian citizens belonging to murky groups calling themselves the Russian Volunteer Corps and the “Freedom of Russia” Legion were behind the assault. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Twitter that Ukraine "has nothing to do with it." The Russian Volunteer Corps claimed in a Telegram post it had crossed the border into Russia again, after claiming to have breached the border in early March.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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