Pro-Ukrainian Russian partisans advance into Russia’s Belgorod region in surprise raid

By | May 22, 2023

Michael Weiss and James Rushton report:

Russia may have taken the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut Sunday, but forces aligned with Ukraine apparently took a tiny part of Russia on Monday — or so video and photograph footage suggested as of just after noon local time. Ukrainian armored vehicles, including at least one tank, were seen attacking a border post, in the town of Kozinka, in the Belgorod region of southern Russia.

Drone footage, taken from the Ukrainian side of the border, showed a lone tank advancing toward the Russian border checkpoint in Kozinka, the main building of which had several large holes blasted in its exterior walls. A group of three light armored vehicles was also spotted in the same location, with Ukrainian marks — white crosses — clearly painted on their hulls. Footage circulating on social media and purportedly shot inside the checkpoint building showed Russian passports scattered on the floor, a portrait of Vladimir Putin hanging on the wall and a dead border guard.

What seemed to be a relatively simple Ukrainian cross-border raid — not the first of its kind in 15 months of war — soon revealed itself to be a far more ambitious and dug-in incursion into Russian territory. From Kozinka, the counter-invaders advanced toward the larger Russian town of Grayvoron. As of Monday morning, the Ukrainian-aligned forces had advanced 3.5 miles over the border into Russia.

As they progressed, the pro-Ukraine Russians handed out leaflets telling Russian soldiers how to surrender and promising their good treatment if the soldiers did. “The best deсision for you and your family is to surrender to the Armed Forces of Ukraine!” the leaflets read. “The prisoners are fed according to the norm of our soldiers, and if you have desire you will be arranged for paid work.”

Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, claimed that the operation in the Belgorod region was carried out exclusively by Russian citizens, with the aim to “create a certain security zone to protect the Ukrainian civilian population.” Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, also claimed that Kyiv had no direct involvement in the events in Belgorod, which they were watching “with interest.” [Continue reading…]