Pro-Ukrainian Russian Forces Report Launching Cross-Border Strikes in Russia

In a bold series of maneuvers that underscore the escalating tensions in Eastern Europe, pro-Ukrainian factions composed of Russian nationals launched incursions into two distinct regions of Russia on Tuesday. These actions came in the wake of a comprehensive drone assault by Kyiv, targeting various locations across Russia, signaling a new phase in the ongoing conflict.

The Freedom for Russia Legion, a collective of Russian dissidents allied with Ukraine and known for their previous forays into Russian territory, announced their successful takeover of Tyotkino, a village within Russia’s Kursk region. While CNN has yet to independently confirm these reports, the significance of such a claim cannot be understated.

This group, which consists of several hundred seasoned fighters opposed to the Kremlin, has further claimed responsibility for the destruction of an armored personnel carrier within Russian borders, showcasing their operational capabilities and determination.

In a parallel development, the Siberian Battalion, another pro-Ukrainian faction of Russian combatants, declared through a message on Telegram, “Well, we’re home at last. As promised, we are bringing freedom and justice to our Russian land.” This statement reflects a profound sentiment of resistance against the current Russian regime.

Additionally, the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) has also entered the fray, marking the involvement of yet another group in these complex dynamics of internal dissent and cross-border conflict.

In response to these unfolding events, CNN reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense for comments, seeking further clarity on the situation.

The Russian defense ministry, on the other hand, labeled these incursions as acts of “Ukrainian terrorist formations,” alleging their attempts to penetrate the border with tanks and armored vehicles from three directions early Tuesday. According to the ministry, these attempts were successfully repelled.

The ministry detailed that the engagements took place near the village of Odnorobovka in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, and in the adjacent Russian villages of Nekhoteevka and Spodariushino in Belgorod. It claimed to have inflicted heavy losses on the attackers, including the destruction of five tanks and an armored personnel carrier, alongside the elimination of 60 Ukrainian soldiers near Odnorobovka.

Furthermore, the ministry reported additional skirmishes near Russia’s Kursk region, north of Belgorod, where Ukrainian forces allegedly “suffered significant losses” and were forced to retreat. The exact number of casualties was not disclosed, and these claims remain unverified by independent sources.

The Belgorod region, in particular, has experienced several cross-border attacks since the onset of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine over two years ago. Kyiv’s strategy appears to be aimed at bringing the realities of war closer to Russian soil.

In a notable incident in May 2023, the Freedom for Russia Legion claimed responsibility for an incursion into Belgorod. Subsequently, Ukraine intensified its operations against the region through shelling and drone strikes, prompting the Kremlin to announce enhancements to Belgorod’s air defenses.

Amid these developments, Russia’s defense ministry reported the interception and destruction of multiple drones over various regions, including Moscow, Belgorod, Kursk, Oryol, Leningrad, Bryansk, and Tula. One drone managed to hit an oil depot in the Oryol region, causing a fire that was later extinguished without resulting in any casualties.

The governor of Belgorod accused Ukraine of deploying a drone to release four explosives over the region, causing damage to a power line and leaving seven settlements without electricity. Meanwhile, in Kursk, concerns for safety prompted the shift to online learning for school children, affecting over 4,500 students across 34 schools.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, a Russian military plane crashed in the Ivanovo region, northeast of Moscow, after its engine caught fire, as reported by Russian state media RIA Novosti. The Ilyushin IL-76, carrying eight crew members and seven passengers, crashed during takeoff. This incident marks the second IL-76 crash within Russia this year, with the previous occurrence in January over Belgorod being attributed to Ukraine by Russia, a claim that has been met with skepticism.

These incidents collectively paint a picture of a region fraught with tension, conflict, and the ever-present specter of escalation, as both sides engage in a complex web of military and strategic maneuvers.