Russian officials say they are fighting Ukrainian ‘saboteurs’ in Belgorod

(Reuters) – The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said on Monday that a Ukrainian “sabotage” group had crossed the border and attacked the village of Gravoron, only to be repelled by Russian forces.

Ukraine’s military intelligence service (GUR), quoted by Ukrainian media Hromadske, said two armed Russian opposition groups, the Russian Independence Army and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVK), both made up of Russian militias hostile to President Vladimir Putin, carried out the It was an attack.

A Telegram Baja messaging channel with links to Russian security services posted aerial footage apparently showing a Ukrainian armored vehicle moving towards the Gravoron border crossing.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Vladimir Putin was being informed and necessary efforts were being made to flush out the “saboteurs”.

Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on a telegram that the Russian army, border guards and the FSB were involved in the operation. He said no civilian was injured and no evacuation was taking place.

Baja reported fighting in three areas along the main road from Ukraine to Russia. The Telegram Open Belgorod channel reported that electricity and water had been cut off in several villages.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify this information.

The Russian Independence Army, led by Ilya Ponomarev, said on Twitter that it had “completely liberated” the border village of Kojinka, adding that forward units had reached the center of Gravoron, further east.

The army also released a video showing five heavily armed fighters.

Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesman Andrey Yusov, quoted by Hromdske, said the Belgorod operation would create a “safe zone” to protect Ukrainians from cross-border attacks from Russia.

For its part, the Kremlin said the operation was aimed at “distracting the city of Bakhmat” in eastern Ukraine, which the Russian army claims to have fully captured after more than nine months of fierce fighting.

(Written by Kevin Liffey, with contributions from Peter Graff and Agnieszka Pikulica-Wilzewska; French edition edited by Lina Golovnya, Tangi Salon)

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