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Pro-Ukrainian Russian soldiers storm border region, demand ‘liberation’ of villages – Reuters

KYIV — Two Russian military groups believed to be fighting on Kiev’s side in the war in Ukraine — the Free Russian Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps — said they entered Russia’s Belgorod region on Monday and overran villages.

“The Legion and the RVC have completely liberated the village of Kozinka, Belgorod Oblast. Forward units have entered Graivoron. Let’s move on. Russia will be free! the Legion tweeted.

Russian groups have claimed the liberation of at least two villages – Kozinka and Gora-Podol – in the border region of Ukraine.

Local Russian Telegram channels and media reported heavy fighting in several villages near the border, including Graivoron, a town where a Russian military base is located.

“A group of saboteurs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine entered the territory of the Graivoronsk district. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation with the Border Service, the Russian Guard and the FSB [intelligence service] take the necessary measures to eliminate the enemy,” Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement.

He then added on his Telegram channel that an “anti-terrorist operation” had been launched by the Russian authorities, including identity checks and “the suspension of the activities of industries that use explosive, radioactive, chemically and biologically dangerous”.

The Ukrainian military intelligence department claimed that the two military groups consisted only of Russian citizens and aimed to create a demilitarized zone on the border with Ukraine.

“Yes, today the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Russian Freedom Legion, consisting of citizens of the Russian Federation, launched an operation to liberate these territories of the Belgorod region from the so-called Putin regime and repel the enemy in order to create a certain safe zone to protect the Ukrainian civilian population,” Andriy Yusov, representative of Ukrainian military intelligence, told Ukrainian state television channel Suspilne.

The Free Russian Legion posted a video statement on its Telegram channel on Monday morning, claiming that the soldiers storming Belgorod are Russians who want to liberate Russia from Putin. “Stay at home, don’t resist and don’t be afraid: we are not your enemies. Unlike Putin’s zombies, we don’t touch civilians or use them for our purposes. Freedom is near.

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