A sabotage and reconnaissance group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine entered the territory of the Graivoronsky district of the Russian city of Belgorod on Monday (22). The information was confirmed by the governor of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov. There were reports of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, causing at least eight injuries, but no fatalities were reported.
Gladkov announced that an anti-terrorist operation regime had been introduced in the region. The operation provides for measures such as verification of citizens’ identity documents; control of telephone conversations; restricting the circulation of vehicles and pedestrians on streets and roads; and inspection when entering and leaving the region.
Earlier in the day, the Grayvoron region was targeted by mortar fire from Ukraine for several hours. Residents of the Belgorod region received false messages about the evacuation of the city of Shebekino. According to Gladkov, this is a major information attack designed to provoke panic among the civilian population.
Ukrainian military intelligence, for its part, claims that the operation is carried out by formations made up of Russian citizens to create a “security zone”.
According to the Kremlin spokesman, the Defense Ministry, the FSB and the border guards reported to President Vladimir Putin about “an attempt to break up a Ukrainian sabotage group in the Belgorod region”. “Work is underway to expel them from Russian territory and destroy this sabotage group,” he told reporters.
Peskov added that the purpose of the Ukrainian sabotage group’s incursion into the Belgorod region was “an attempt by Kiev to minimize the political effect of the loss of Bakhmut”.
Last Saturday, the head of the “Wagner'” private military group, Yevgueny Prigozhin, who leads Russian troops in Bakhmut, declared that his men had captured the city after “224 days of fighting”. Kiev denied that Russia had taken control. from the region, claiming Ukrainian forces are surrounding Bakhmut.
Responsibility for the incursion was claimed by Russia’s Freedom Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps, formations fighting alongside Ukraine. The office of the President of Ukraine stated that they were not directly related to events in the Belgorod region.
US comments on incursion into Russian territory
The incident in Bakhmut on Monday (22) had repercussions in the US regarding the country’s plans to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller was asked by reporters whether those plans would be affected by reports that the Ukrainian military had used military equipment received from the US to attack settlements in the Belgorod region.
“This (combat aircraft deliveries) is a priority for us and we will begin implementation in the coming months,” Miller said.
The State Department representative did not specify when exactly the Armed Forces of Ukraine will receive the fighter jets, as well as which countries will participate in the supply and training of Ukrainian pilots.
Last Saturday, US President Jake Sullivan’s National Security Advisor said the United States and its allies would decide in the coming months who would supply Kiev with warplanes and how many. According to him, by transferring F-16 fighters, the US will not support Kiev’s attacks on targets on Russian territory.
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho
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