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:
- Embarrass the Kremlin
- Undermine Putin’s domestic narrative of invincibility, and
- 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: