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ISW: Russia's Ministry of Defense continues to respond disproportionately to minor incursions into Russian territory

by Olena Goncharova June 3, 2023 5:49 AM 2 min read
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The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a second update about the June 1 Shebekino, Belgorod Oblast border raid, largely fixating on the timeliness and scope of the Russian response to the raid.

Russian authorities said on June 1 that their military have repelled a new attack across the state border into Belgorod that allegedly included the shelling of settlements. Two women have been killed in shelling of Belgorod, its governor has said. They were hit by shrapnel as they were travelling in a car near the village of Maslova Pristan.

The Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update that the minsitry claimed that additional Russian Western Military District elements reinforced the border area within an hour of the start of the raid and conducted heavy air, artillery, and flamethrower strikes against the raiding units and their reserves.

According to the ministry, over 135 people and 35 vehicles in total conducted the raids and that various Russian defensive efforts - including small arms fire and mines - repelled the raids.

The Russian military later celebrated the commander of an unspecified motorized rifle battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Nikitin, for leading the defensive effort, likely to preempt attempts to attribute the “victory” achieved by Belgorod border defense on Russian Colonel General Alexander Lapin as the information space did during the May 23 raid.

"The Russian Ministry of Defense’s fixation on portraying Russian forces and the Russian military command as capable defenders of Russia likely reflects internal and broader information space anxiety over the coming Ukrainian counteroffensive as well as any reverberating informational impacts from any failures to defend against Ukrainian counterattacks," the ISW concluded.

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