Russian authorities have urgently evacuated a nuclear munitions storage facility in the Belgorod oblast (western Russia) following the incursion of the Legion “Freedom for Russia” and RDK (Russian Volunteer Corps) from Ukraine into the Belgorod region, Ukraine’s Intelligence spox Andrii Yusov said.
On 22 May 2023, in the morning, a Russian border crossing in the Belgorod oblast was reportedly destroyed by artillery shelling from the territory of Ukraine. After that, the incursion of troops supported by armored vehicles from Ukraine into the Belgorod oblast began.
The Russian military unit no. 25624, located in the Grayvoron district of the Belgorod oblast, is a part of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces. It is an “Object C,” which is the conventional name for Russia’s central nuclear weapons storage base, Ukrainska Pravda reported.
The Legion “Freedom for Russia” and RDK (Russian Volunteer Corps), which allegedly comprise Russian citizens who decided to fight on the side of Ukraine and joined the International Legion of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, claimed its fighters crossed the Russo-Ukrainian border and entered the Belgorod oblast from the territory of Ukraine.
"The Legion and the RDK (Russian Volunteer Corps – Ed) completely liberated Kozinka settlement, Belgorod Oblast. Advance detachments entered Grayvoron. We move on. Russia will be free!" a Telegram post by the Legion Freedom for Russia reads.https://t.co/l22H59KuQx pic.twitter.com/bMDLb0TDlF
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 22, 2023
The Legion “Freedom for Russia” and RDK announced on their official Telegram channels that their troops advanced deep into the Russian territory and engaged with Russia’s forces in several towns in Belgorod oblast, namely Kozinka, Gora-Podol, and Grayvoron (the latter being around ten kilometers from the Russo-Ukrainian border), and called on residents of the Russian border regions to stay at home and “not resist.” Shortly after this, locals in Grayvoron started to report gunfire in their town.
A representative of the Legion Freedom for Russia told Suspilne, a Ukrainian news media, that they are creating a “demilitarized zone” in the Belgorod oblast of Russia, on the border with Ukraine, from where Russian troops will not be able to shell Ukrainian civilians.
Andrii Yusov, Ukraine’s Intel spox, said that the combat operation in Russia’s Belgorod oblast might be an attempt to establish a “security zone” to protect Ukrainians from Russian attacks. However, Andrii Yusov said that Ukraine had nothing to do with the events taking place in the Belgorod oblast and claimed that the fighting there was being waged by local anti-Putin forces comprising Russian citizens only.
Adviser to the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Mykhailo Podoliak, denied the involvement of Ukraine in the incursion into Russia’s Belgorod oblast.
“The only driving political force in a totalitarian country of tightened screws is always an armed guerrilla movement. Ukraine is watching the events in the Belgorod region of Russia with interest and studying the situation, but it has nothing to do with it. As you know, tanks are sold at any Russian military store, and underground guerrilla groups are composed of Russian citizens,” Podoliak wrote on Twitter.
Around six pm, the governor of Belgorod oblast, Vyacheslav Gladkov, informed on his official Telegram account that a counter-terrorist operation had been announced in the Belgorod oblast “to ensure the safety of citizens in the Belgorod region.”
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, is informed about the incursion of “Ukrainian saboteur groups” into Belgorod oblast, Russia’s President spox, Dmitri Peskov, told RIA Novosti, a Russian news media.
According to Dmitri Peskov, Russian forces try to “squeeze Ukrainian saboteurs out of Russia and destroy them.” Peskov claimed that the purpose of the “Ukrainian sabotage” was to divert attention from the Bakhmut direction to minimize the political effect of the “loss” of Bakhmut.