Anti-Putin militias mount attack inside Russia

Briefly: A contingent of Russian nationals from two anti-Putin militias mounted a cross-border assault from Ukraine into the Russian region of Belgorod on Monday (22 May). Russia said it repelled the attack on Tuesday.

Both groups have previously described operating under Ukrainian command, and video suggests they were using equipment also employed by the Ukrainian military. Of course, Kyiv says the militants were acting on their own initiative.

For its part, the Kremlin called them “saboteurs” and “terrorists”.

Intrigue’s take: These fighters were back in Ukraine a couple of days after first entering Russia. So what was their objective? It seems there were three:

  1. Embarrass the Kremlin
  2. Undermine Putin’s domestic narrative of invincibility, and
  3. Force Russia to reallocate resources from the frontlines to its vast border

The incursion probably achieved objective #1, and the Kremlin’s control of Russian media makes #2 difficult to measure. As for #3, time will tell.

Also worth noting:

  • One of the groups, the Russian Volunteer Corps, claimed responsibility for a similar attack in the Russian region of Bryansk back in March.
  • The previous attack in March prompted Russia’s president to cancel a planned trip and convene his security council.
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