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'Counter-terrorist operation' in Russia's Belgorod region canceled

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 23, 2023 7:16 PM 2 min read
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Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia's Belgorod Oblast, reported calling off the "counter-terrorist operation" shortly after Russian Defense Ministry announced a defeat of the Belgorod incursion.

Gladkov didn't say what the current situation in the region was and whether residents who fled their homes could return.

Earlier the same day, the Russian Defense Ministry said they defeated partisan groups that attacked the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine on May 22.

The Russian authorities claim to have "killed 70 combatants" and destroyed four armored combat vehicles and five trucks while "driving the remaining formations from Belgorod Oblast back into the Ukrainian territory."

The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify the claim, while the Russian Defense Military provided no footage backing their claim. The Free Russia Legion that has purportedly crossed into Russia later posted several videos alleging that the fight was ongoing.

UK Defense Ministry: ‘Russia faces increasingly serious threat at its borders’
Russian security forces clashed with partisans between May 19 and 22 in at least three locations within Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, with the heaviest fighting near the town of Grayvoran, U.K. Defense Intelligence reported on May 23.

According to Gladkov, one civilian allegedly died due to the fighting in the village of Kozinka. Earlier today, he claimed that two civilians had been injured in the settlements said to be attacked by Russian partisans.

While the identity of partisans remains unconfirmed, Russian anti-government units that declare to fight on Ukraine's side – the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom for Russia Legion – have claimed responsibility.

They recorded a video on May 22 saying they had crossed into Russia and taken hold of bordering villages. Gladkov then announced a "counter-terrorist operation" while the Kremlin's spokesperson said Russian forces were working to "push out" what he called a "Ukrainian sabotage group" from the region.

Spokesperson for Ukraine's military intelligence Andrii Yusov confirmed to Suspilne news outlet on May 22 that the Russian anti-government groups have indeed started a combat operation in Russia's Belgorod Oblast.

Yusov stressed that while the operation aims to create a "safe strip" at the Russo-Ukrainian border, it is conducted "exclusively by Russian citizens."

Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to the head of Ukraine's Presidential Office, denied any involvement by Kyiv.

Ukraine war latest: Russia says fighting ongoing within its borders
Key developments on May 22: * Attacks involving anti-Kremlin fighters reported in Russia’s Belgorad Oblast * Russia announces ‘counter-terrorist operation’ in Belgorad Oblast * Ukrainian military reports small advance on Bakhmut flanks Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, a…
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