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Members of the Siberian Battalion prepare weapons during military exercises with the International Legion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at an undisclosed location in Ukraine, on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2023. (Andrew Kravchenko/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The Russian Defense Ministry reported on March 12 that Moscow's military and security forces killed 234 combatants while thwarting a border incursion it blames on Ukraine.

In the morning of March 12, several anti-Kremlin armed groups, including the Freedom of Russia Legion, the Russian Volunteer Corps, and the Siberian Battalion crossed the border into Russia from Ukraine to conduct combat operations.

According to the spokesperson of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Andrii Yusov, the units are comprised of Russian citizens acting as part of Ukraine’s "security and defense forces."

The situation regarding border skirmishes on March 12 remained unclear, making it difficult to determine the events unfolding in Russia's Kursk and Belgorod oblasts. Cross-border incidents in the area have sporadically transpired since the start of the full-scale invasion, often accompanied by disinformation and propaganda.

The incident comes days before Russian citizens will vote in a presidential election scheduled from March 15 till March 17. Vladimir Putin is running for president for the fifth time, seeking to extend his rule by six more years - until at least 2030.

In an official statement, the Russian ministry attributed the assault to what it called a "Kyiv regime" claiming that Russian military and border forces effectively intercepted the attackers, preventing a cross-border raid. Russian authorities additionally said that the groups suffered the loss of seven tanks and five armored vehicles.

The ministry did not refer directly to any of the formations, saying only that the "Ukrainian terrorists who tried to break into Russian territory were struck by aviation, missile forces, and artillery."

Both the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Siberian Battalion posted videos on their social media platforms purporting to show their respective groups operating in Russia. "Like all our fellow citizens, in the Legion we dream of a Russia freed from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s dictatorship," the Freedom of Russia Legion wrote on Twitter.

The authenticity of the videos couldn’t be independently verified.

Ukraine war latest: Russian anti-Kremlin militia break into Russia, claim to occupy villages
Key developments on March 12: * Russian anti-Kremlin militia break into Russia, claim to occupy villages * Russian missile attack on Kryvyi Rih kills 3, injures almost 40 * Fire reported at several Russian oil refineries after alleged Ukrainian drone attack * Russia claims it has taken control…

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