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Frontline report: Ukraine’s Russian units capture some 35 km² in Russia’s border region

Situation in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast on 22 May 2023. Map: screenshot from the video
Frontline report: Ukraine’s Russian units capture some 35 km² in Russia’s border region

Two Ukrainian assault units comprised of Russian citizens make a surprise incursion from Kharkiv Oblast into Russia’s Belgorod region, penetrating Russian defenses by up to 10 km, capturing several settlements, and prompting Russia’s “counter-terrorist operation” in the region.

Day 453: May 22

Today the biggest news comes from the north. Here, several reinforced detachments made an unexpected attack on the Russian territory and managed to penetrate Russian defenses by up to 10 km. The group managed to take four settlements and establish a 35 square kilometers bridgehead.

Ukraine’s Russian volunteer fighters creating “security strip” in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast – Ukrainian intel

The morning started with an artillery preparation that targeted Russian forces on the border along a 35 km line. The Head of the Belgorod region reported that Ukrainians struck Russian objects in Kozinka, Gora Podol, Grayvoron, Antonovka, and Zamostie. The fact that all of these settlements are located on the same highway did not raise suspicions, and Russians did not take any preventative actions.

After the artillery preparation, a huge column was spotted moving towards the Russian Control Point, which was heavily assaulted in less than a minute. Judging by the available footage, the assault unit consisted of 2 tanks, 1 armored fighting vehicle, and 9 Humvees. The unit dispersed across multiple facilities located on the Russian Control Point and started a storming operation. The tanks opened fire at the Russian positions, paved the way for the mobile units, and very quickly broke Russian resistance. Russians reportedly lost several dozen troops before they surrendered.

The fighters also reported that in the aftermath of successful storming operations, they captured a Russian armored fighting vehicle, which they promptly drove to the Ukrainian facilities on the other side of the border.

But this was only the beginning. For a while, Russian officials did not understand whether the news was fake or not until they were summoned to a meeting. During the meeting, they acknowledged the fact of penetration, and the regional governor declared a counter-terrorism regime. Interestingly, all troops participating in the operation were Russian residents. The Freedom of Russia Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps conducted the operation.

While Russian officials had the meeting, the assault unit was reinforced with additional manpower and immediately assaulted the next two settlements on the line: Kozinka and Glotovo. Russian sources reported that if around 50 troops assaulted the Control Center, then after breaking the first point of resistance, the assault unit was reinforced by up to 500 more troops. It is unsurprising then that the fighters were shortly spotted from a drone past Kozinka and Glotovo. The drone footage showed a unit operating north of Kozinka, and a local resident showed another unit arriving already in Grayvoron. This means that unprepared Russian forces retreated and lost control over 3 settlements. The volunteer detachments started facing resistance after they had already penetrated Russian positions by around 8 km.

Several hours later, Russians were seen sending empty buses to evacuate people from the nearby settlements. Local residents also noticed engagements of multiple transport and assault helicopters, such as Mi-8, Mi-28, and Ka-52. The footage shows that one helicopter automatically discharged false heat targets. This got Russians worried because it implied that the helicopter radar picked up a signal from a Ukrainian air defense. This caused further delays in the reaction as the border was less than 25km away, and an air defense missile could potentially shoot down a Russian helicopter. Later, it was reported that one helicopter Mi-8 fell down near Prohorovka. Interestingly, this one was out of reach of Ukrainian air defense, so it was highly likely a malfunction.

When Russian forces finally arrived in Grayvoron, the volunteer detachments had almost established full control over the settlement. Local residents that chose to evacuate noticed that Russians were sending reinforcements. The fighters reported active use of artillery by both sides. Some sources mentioned that there was an explosion on the Russian base with tactical nuclear warheads that is only 4 km away from the contact line, however, all nuclear warheads have been relocated from here a long time ago. Tough fights broke out, as local residents reported hearing rounds of gunfire continuously. The latest reports suggest that Russian forces managed to return control over Grayvoron, however, it seems like the operation still continues.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what’s happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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