Copyright © 2021

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Anti-Putin Russian fighters start “second stage” of Belgorod operation

Belgorod raid Free Russia Legion
Zaza, the “youngest warrior” of the Free Russia Legion, allegedly near Shebekino. Photo shared by the Legion’s Telegram channel
Anti-Putin Russian fighters start “second stage” of Belgorod operation

Anti-Putin fighters from the Russian Volunteer Corps and Free Russia Legion, two military groups fighting on the side of Ukraine, claim to have again infiltrated the Belgorod Oblast, engaging in battles with the Russian Army, in the “second stage” of their operation.

The soldiers made these claims in a video message posted on the Russian Volunteer Corps TG channel and said they were heading toward Shebekino, a village four km from the Ukrainian border, advising locals to head for shelter or remain in their homes.

Russian volunteer corps
RDK fighters on the approach to Shebekino. Photo from RDK Telegram channel

Denis Nikitin, commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), stated that his fighters are once again conducting battles on Russian soil. “Soon you will see the outskirts of Shebekino. Unfortunately, we cannot ensure the evacuation of civilians from the border areas because the Russian army is shelling these areas and complicating the evacuation. Stay at home; we do not fight with civilians,” he declared.

The Free Russia Legion (LSR) also claimed to have launched a new raid into Russian territory, promising to “bring peace and freedom.”

“Grayvoron is just the beginning. We are going to liberate all of Russia – from Belgorod to Vladivostok,” the Russian volunteer fighters announced in a video message, referring to the previous raid of the anti-Putin insurgents on 22-24 May.

As of 2:41 PM, the RDK said they were already engaging in battles on the outskirts of Shebekino. And the Free Russia Legion (LSR) posted a series of videos showing the destruction of Russian Army equipment:

  • photos and a video claiming the destruction of 1 Kamaz truck with ammunition and one Tyulpan self-propelled mortar;
  • a video showing Russian insurgent artillery destroying Russian Grad units;
  • destruction of Russian Army military equipment on the outskirts of Shebekino.

The fighters also appealed to the Russian military forces deployed against them, calling to surrender to Ukraine’s official hotline “I want to live,” where they are “guaranteed detention under the supervision of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, compliance with the Geneva Conventions, three meals a day, medical care and the possibility of regular contact with home”:

“Today you are not defenders of our Motherland. You are being used to protect Putin’s regime. An authoritarian regime which is built on corruption and repressions with one aim – the irremovable rule of Putin who considers himself a new tsar. Instead of developing our country, Putin’s regime squanders Russia’s enormous potential in a war of aggression with its neighbors,” a message shared by RDK states.

“You are sent to a criminal, invading war – but you are not slaves! The Putin regime puts you before a choice: go die in a foreign country, or face cannibalistic prison penalties for refusing to become an occupier. We urge you to put aside this slave paradigm and move to the side of good,” LSR posted.

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that it repelled three Ukrainian attempts “to commit a terrorist act” on the territory of Shebekino, claiming to have prevented a breach of the border, at 3 AM.

The Russian State Emergency System is issuing artillery strike warnings to residents of Shebekino and neighboring settlements.

Background: Grayvoron raid

On the morning of 22 May, the RDK and the LSR claimed to have crossed the border into Russia, entering the Belgorod Oblast. Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) explained that Russian fighters operate autonomously on Russian territory. However, a source of in Ukrainian intelligence believes that both the RDK and LSR are managed by GUR.

Later, the GUR reported that evacuation had begun at the nuclear facility “Belgorod-22” in Belgorod Oblast, where Russia had introduced a “counter-terrorist operation mode.” The following day, 23 May, this mode was canceled. The LSR claims that during the operation, the FSB forces were “smashed,” and a “motorized rifle company” of the Russian Armed Forces was “destroyed.” They also deny Russian claims of heavy losses allegedly suffered by the formation.

Beneficially for Ukraine, following the raid, Russia relocated troops to the region, drawing away forces from the front, where Ukraine is planning on launching a counteroffensive.

The Head of RDK Headquarters Aleksandr Fortuna told Euromaidan Press that the operation “was not coordinated” with the Ukrainian government. He also said that the RDK and LSR are the only anti-Putin Russian units fighting on Ukraine’s side and they coordinate military actions, but are separate entities, and announced that soon the Russian fighters will carry out the “second stage” of their operation in Belgorod Oblast.

The May raid was the first operation of the insurgents with the use of military equipment, but smaller raids were carried out on the region in March and April.

Russian Volunteer Corps fights for Ukraine and to dismantle Putin’s regime


You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here