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Russian Volunteer Corps claims Ukraine supported its operation in Bryansk Oblast
Denis Nikitin, the head of the Russian Volunteer Corps, allegedly fighting in the ranks of Ukraine's International Legion, claimed in an interview with the Financial Times that Ukraine supported his group's raid out of Ukraine into Russia on March 2.
The Russian Volunteer Corps earlier claimed they had crossed the Russian state border in Bryansk Oblast. The group reportedly retreated after a few hours, but details about the incident remain unclear and unverified.
Ukraine has denied directly supporting the operation.
"Yes, of course, this action was agreed (with Ukraine), otherwise it couldn't have happened," Nikitin said. "How do you imagine that I passed through the dark of night there? There are mined bridges, there are cameras, heat-seeking drones, there are hidden open observation points."
"If I did not coordinate it with anyone (in Ukraine's military)...I think we would simply be destroyed," he added.
The Russian Volunteer Corps is reportedly made up of ethnic Russian emigrants who live in Ukraine and other European countries, with Nikitin himself having reportedly lived in Germany since 2001 before coming to Ukraine. The raid is said to have proved that some of Russia's most heavily guarded border areas could be breached.
Before the Russian Volunteer Corps claimed responsibility for the operation, Russian propagandists claimed that a "Ukrainian subversion and reconnaissance group" had allegedly infiltrated Russia's Bryansk Oblast. However, these claims remain unverified and disputed, and there is no photo or video evidence to support them.
Contradictory stories have emerged from Russian propagandists and local authorities, with some sources reporting that residents of Sushany were allegedly taken hostage, while others insist that it was residents of Lyubechany.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine's Presidential Office, called the claim a provocation, saying that Russia "wants to scare its people to justify the attack on another country and the growing poverty after the year of the war" against Ukraine.
Podolyak added, though, that "the partisan movement in Russia is getting stronger and more aggressive" and urged Moscow to "fear" its partisans.
Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate spokesperson Andrii Yusov called the incident "a continuation of Russia's transformation, its purification, and liberation from Putin's dictatorship," mentioning the Russian Volunteer Corps in his comment for Hromadske.
"These are people who, with weapons in their hands, are fighting against Putin's regime and those who support him... Maybe Russians are starting to wake up, realize something and take some concrete measures," Yusov told Hromadske.