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Fighters of the Russian Volunteer Corps attend a presentation for the media in northern Ukraine, not far from the Russian border, on May 24, 2023. (Photo by Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images)
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One of the anti-Kremlin militias fighting in Russia's Belgorod Oblast claimed that fighting is ongoing in the region and that it is continuing to take prisoners.

The Freedom of Russia Legion, the Siberian Battalion, and the Russian Volunteer Corps launched cross-border incursions into Russia's Belgorod and Kursk oblasts on March 12, allegedly resulting in clashes with Russian forces in several settlements.

The militias claimed to have captured 25 Russian soldiers on March 17 following their incursions, and the Siberian Battalion said it had taken control of the local administration building.

Speaking on Ukrainian TV on March 19, the commander of the anti-Kremlin armed group Russian Volunteer Corps, "Fortune," conceded that it had sustained losses, but nowhere near the 1,500 claimed by the Kremlin over the weekend.

“There are losses, but not on such a scale,” Fortune said, adding: “There are new Russian prisoners.”

He described intense combat in Belgorod Oblast and claimed it was having the desired effect on Russia’s forces both there and in Ukraine, saying: “We are using all the potential and reserves along the entire line of contact."

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“The fighting is ongoing, the enemy’s casualty figures are constantly increasing," he said. “This means that we are achieving one of our goals – to pull back Russian troops from the front."

Fortune also claimed that “small numbers” of Russian special units had been deployed by the Kremlin to deal with the ongoing incursion.

Russia initially tried to play down the scale of the attack, which began last week, initially saying there were no hostilities in the region. In the days since, Russian authorities have been forced to acknowledge a series of strikes and attacks and have even begun the evacuation of children from the areas affected.

Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, said on March 16 that Ukraine would help anti-Kremlin militias in their operations on Russian territory and support them “to the extent possible.”

Budanov noted that the militias have helped Ukraine from the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion and that they are no longer a “grouping”, but they are now “becoming a force.”

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