Ukraine-based Russian paramilitaries claim cross-border attack

KYIV (Reuters) – The Freedom of Russia Legion, a Ukrainian-based paramilitary group of Russians who oppose President Vladimir Putin, claimed responsibility on Sunday for a cross-border attack a few kilometres (miles) into Russia’s Belgorod region.

The group, designated as terrorist in Russia, said it had destroyed a platoon stronghold of Russian troops near Terebreno village, without specifying whether it had destroyed infrastructure or killed soldiers, and said it had left mines behind.

Reuters could not verify the claims of the group, which says it was formed in spring 2022 to fight Putin’s forces from within the ranks of the armed forces of Ukraine, which has in the past denied involvement in attacks in Belgorod by Freedom of Russia Legion and another Russian anti-Putin group.

Earlier on Sunday, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod region, which experiences frequent attacks by Ukrainian forces, said Terebreno was under fire from Ukraine’s Armed Forces and that a “shooting battle” was under way on the village edge.

He said no civilians had been injured but three houses and power lines were damaged. On Saturday he posted on the Telegram messaging app that 19 villages or farms had come under attack from Ukrainian shelling or from explosive devices dropped by drones.

(This story has been corrected to fix the name of the village to ‘Terebreno’ from ‘Trebreno’ in paragraphs 2 and 4)

(Reporting by Oleksandr Kozhukhar in Kyiv and Elaine Monaghan in Washington; Writing by Elaine Monaghan; Editing by Sandra Maler)