Two days after the Wagner group claims to have taken Bakhmut, Russia is engaged in fighting on its own territory.
Two Russian opposition groups seize several border towns
Two units of Russian volunteers who have been fighting alongside the Ukrainians, the "Freedom of Russia" Legion (which we already talked about here) and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), formed in August 2022, have entered Russian territory from northern Ukraine to the border regions of Russia. The "Freedom of Russia" Legion announced this offensive today on its Telegram channel with a message to the civilian population:
"Inhabitants of the border regions! Stay at home, don't resist and don't be afraid: we are not your enemies. Unlike Putin's zombies, we don't touch civilians and we don't use them for our own purposes. Freedom is near!"
An organization calling themselves "Freedom of Russia Legion" published a video on their Telegram channel.
"The time has come to put an end to the Kremlin dictatorship! Be brave and have no fear because we are coming home! Russia will be free!" They said after criticizing… pic.twitter.com/9a7p31em82
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) May 22, 2023
The message, in Russian, reads as follows:
"We are Russians like you, we are people like you. We want our children to grow up in peace and to be free people. That they can travel, study and simply be happy in a free country. But there is no place for that in Putin's Russia today. Rotten to the core with corruption, lies, censorship, restrictions on freedoms and repression. In a Russia where people's lives mean less than an official's purse, in a Russia where they build a separate railway to grandfather's [Putin's] bunker instead of repairing roads in the regions, in a dictatorial country where children are separated from their parents for suing for peace, and adolescents are sentenced to life imprisonment. But the time has come to put an end to the Kremlin dictatorship! Thank you all for supporting us, those who send us donations and "smoke where needed". Your support is what every day reminds us of the final goal in Red Square. Be brave and don't be afraid for we are coming home! Russia will be free!"
Likewise, the Russian Volunteer Corps has published three nighttime images showing signs of Bezlyudivka, Churovichie and Lyubimivka, border towns in the Russian regions of Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk, respectively, along with this message:
"Residents of Russia! We are Russians like you. We distinguish ourselves only by the fact that we no longer wanted to justify the actions of the criminals in power and we took up arms to defend our and your freedom. But today is the time for everyone to take responsibility for their future. It is time for the Kremlin dictatorship to end."
Images of a 'Belgorod People's Republic' begin to spread
The information about the offensive of Russian opponents in the border regions of Russia has also been confirmed by the Russian Governor of Belgorod in a Telegram message acknowledging that there have been attacks since 9:00am in Graivoronsky, Kozinka, Gora-Podil, Grayvoron and Zamostye. This map is already circulating on Ukrainian social media accounts showing a "People's Republic of Belgorod", following the example of the areas of Ukraine where Russia promoted separatism to end up annexing them:
Also spreading today is this image of three soldiers with hidden faces and a flag that reads, in Russian, "Belgorod People's Republic":
Ukrainian military intelligence confirms the existence of that operation
At noon, the "Freedom of Russia" Legion announced that they have reached Gora- Podil and Grayvoron, in the Belgorod region. Ukrainian military intelligence has confirmed the existence of this operation and has indicated that it is being carried out exclusively by Russian citizens "to liberate these territories from the Putin regime and push back the enemy to create a certain security zone to protect Ukrainian civilians."
1 Tank and 2 Armored Vehicles with the “Freedom of Russia Legion” in the Belgorod Region of Western Russia. pic.twitter.com/N0eWfqrOsT
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) May 22, 2023
According to some information, the Russian opponents would be armed with armored vehicles and at least one tank (as can be seen in the video above these lines, recorded in the Belgorod region) and they reportedly shot down a Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter near Prokhorovka.
⚡️A russian Mi-8 helicopter crashed in Prokhorovka, the Belgorod region, — russian media.
Video from local social networks.
— FLASH (@Flash_news_ua) May 22, 2023
The Ukrainian presidency denies any responsibility for that operation
This afternoon, the cabinet of the Ukrainian Presidency has denied any responsibility for this offensive by the free Russians, and has done so by resorting to irony: "As you know, tanks are sold anywhere Russian military tent and underground guerrilla groups are made up of Russian citizens."
What happened today is still surreal and reveals the grotesque situation in Russia: Putin has been massacring civilians in Ukraine for more than a year and now he has managed to bring war to his own country. Although This is a symbolic action by Russian opponents, welcome to divert Russian forces from the invasion of Ukraine and show the Russian people the absurdity of the war their dictator has led them into.
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