On May 22, a ‘diversion-reconnaissance group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ penetrated the territory of the Grayvoron City District in the Belgorod Region,” stated the governor of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov. “The Russian Armed Forces, together with the Border Service, the National Guard, and the FSB, are taking necessary measures to eliminate the enemy,” he wrote in his Telegram channel.
Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels previously reported that Ukrainian military forces had invaded the Grayvoron City District on Monday morning, resulting in clashes in the areas of Dronovka, Glotovo, Kozinka, and Gora-Podol. It was reported that a Ukrainian tank entered the territory of the Grayvoron checkpoint, but this information has not been confirmed. A source from the Russian state television channel RT reported the seizure of a cultural center by the saboteurs in the village of Gora-Podol. It was claimed that the attackers had been surrounded. According to Mash, the border checkpoint and several private houses, including a grocery store, were partially destroyed in Kozinka. In Grayvoron, the deputy head of the city administration and two employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations were reportedly injured during the shelling, according to Baza.
Initially, Gladkov did not confirm reports of saboteurs in the border settlements, stating that there was a “massive information attack” on the region. The governor stated that the attack was taking place “against the backdrop of massive shelling of the Grayvoron District,” during which no civilians were injured or killed. Later, he reported that two local residents were injured as a result of shelling in Glotovo. The governor denied the information about organized evacuations from the settlements, but there is evidence that residents are attempting to leave on their own.
On the morning of May 22, the Legion “Freedom of Russia” addressed the Russian people with the words “The Legion is coming home.” “Residents of border regions! Stay at home, do not resist, and do not be afraid: we are not your enemies,” the legion said. The group also published photos of white-blue-white flags hung “over the liberated cities.”
Around 2:00 p.m., the legion announced that, together with the “Russian Volunteer Corps” (RVC), they had “completely liberated” the settlement of Kozinka in the Belgorod Region, and advanced units entered the city of Grayvoron. Later, the unit claimed that they had passed through Gora-Podol. Several videos appeared in the RVC’s Telegram channel, claiming that the unit’s fighters were once again on Russian territory.
Representatives of the legion shared the following information with “Important Stories” about the events in the Belgorod Region: “Russian security forces are trying to target us with artillery fire and conducting airstrikes. The situation is difficult, but we are holding on and moving forward.”
Journalists identified some members of the armed group through videos published on their Telegram channels. According to claims, they include Alexey Levkin, Kirill Kanakhin, Ilya Bogdanov, and Alexey Dolgov.
The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense confirmed that fighters from the “Russian Volunteer Corps” and the legion “Freedom of Russia” entered the territory of the Belgorod Region. The goal of the operation, according to Ukrainian intelligence, is to “create a security zone to protect Ukrainian civilians.
The events in the Belgorod Region and other border territories are a result of the full-scale invasion and aggressive war by Putin’s Russia against Ukraine. Yes, the responsibility for these events has been taken by Russian citizens, specifically the forces of the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Legion ‘Freedom of Russia.’ I believe that we can only congratulate the decisive actions of opposition-minded citizens of Russia who are ready to engage in armed struggle against Putin’s criminal regime,” said Andrey Yusov, representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR).
Mikhail Podolyak, Advisor to the President’s Office of Ukraine, stated that the Ukrainian authorities have no direct involvement in the events in the Belgorod Region. “In a totalitarian country with screwed-up screws, the only driving political force inevitably becomes the guerrilla movement with weapons in hand. Ukraine is closely observing the events in the Belgorod Region of Russia and studying the situation, but it has no direct involvement in it. As it is known, tanks are sold in any Russian military store, and underground guerrilla units are composed of Russian citizens,” he wrote on Twitter.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the President of Russia, stated that Vladimir Putin is already aware of the attempted incursion into the Belgorod Region. “The Ministry of Defense, FSB, and Border Service have reported to the President of Russia – the Supreme Commander-in-Chief – about the attempt by a Ukrainian sabotage group to break into the Belgorod Region. Efforts are underway to push them out of Russian territory and eliminate this sabotage group. There are sufficient forces and resources on the ground,” said the Kremlin representative. “We understand the purpose of such sabotage operations very well – to divert attention from the Bahmut direction and minimize the political effect of Ukraine’s loss of Artemivsk.
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