are known to be russian fightersthat they fight from Ukraine and that their ultimate goal is to overthrow President Vladimir Putin even if they have to take Red Square in Moscow by force. However, what is still unknown about the Legion for the Freedom of Russia and the Russian Volunteer Corps -the two paramilitary groups that have acknowledged responsibility for the attack in the Russian region of Belgorod, a few kilometers from the Ukrainian border- is where (or who) they get the weapons from.
From the beginning, kyiv has tried to disassociate itself from this military incursion that has led rebel militias to take up positions in several villages, including the Kozinka border crossing in the Grayvoron district. “We have nothing to do”said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodimir Zelensky, shortly after the Belgorod governor, Vyacheslav Gladkovwarn about the arrival of “a sabotage group” on Russian territory on Monday morning.
“Those who have taken responsibility are citizens of the Russian Federation. This can only be an internal matter,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar later said. But despite these attempts to distance themselves from what happened, the anti-Putin guerrillas used US-made tactical vehicles sows doubts about the true involvement of kyiv in an incursion reminiscent of that of the infiltrated Russian soldiers – popularly known as “little green men”– which stormed into Donbas and the Crimean peninsula during the 2014 Russian invasion.
It has been the leader of the Russian Volunteer Corps himself, the far-right Denis Nikitinwho has explained to Financial Times that his men have Western weapons. Nikitin has not revealed where he got them from, but The Washington Postamong others, have verified some of the photographs disseminated on social networks in which several pro-Ukrainian fighters appear in possession of US-made vehicles, such as armored vehicles M1224 MaxxPro and the humvee.
It is precisely the latter that appear, stuck in a trench and badly damagedin the photographs that the Russian Defense Ministry shared on Tuesday after assuring that it had liquidated to more than “70 Ukrainian nationalists” who had attacked the Belgorod border region. Putin’s army also claimed to have destroyed four rebel armored vehicles and five pickup trucks.
[Caos en Rusia tras entrar en Belgorod tropas anti-Putin que quieren “llegar hasta la Plaza Roja”]
Representatives of the two pro-Ukrainian groups have denied the information, not only through social networks, but through interviews and face-to-face press conferences. “Total losses from the operation amount to two people dead and ten injured“he said on Wednesday. Ilya Ponomarevformer deputy of the Russian Parliament exiled to Ukraine and current spokesperson for the Russian Freedom Legion.
In any case, Moscow has taken advantage of the images of that US military materialwhose location has been verified by the agency Reuters, to attack directly against the West. “It is no secret that this equipment is being used against our own army. And it is no secret to us that the direct and indirect involvement of Western countries in this conflict is growing day by day. We are drawing the appropriate conclusions,” he told the media the spokesman of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov.
1) The Russian government released this photo of the alleged Belgorod insurgents vehicles after a battle. I used to be a tow truck operator. This is staged. These vehicles didn’t crash into that trench. I’ll explain why⬇️ pic.twitter.com/vNJpH0qhqY
—Jack’s House (@FluteMagician) May 24, 2023
The United States has provided more than 2,000 Humvee to Ukraine, according to data from the White House. Thus, it could be assumed that the vehicles that Russia claims to have destroyed are part of one of the military aid packages that kyiv has received. However, another of the hypotheses that circulate on social networks based on details such as the lack of marks on the ground is that Russia Has Strategically Placed Those Wrecked American Trucks.
And it is that according to Oryxan intelligence blog that counts the military losses of both sides of the conflict based on the photographs sent from the front, the Russian forces have captured dozens of American Humvees in previous offensives.
The F-16, in danger
For its part, the Pentagon has reiterated that it does not approve any transfer of equipment to paramilitary organizations outside of the Ukrainian military, much less to attack Russia directly. “As a more general principle we do not encourage or allow attacks inside Russia and we have made it clear“said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
F-16 ‘coalition of fighters’ to help Ukraine takes off with extreme caution in the EU]
The appearance of these American vehicles on Russian soil comes at a particularly sensitive time. Just a few days ago, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, gave the go-ahead for Ukrainian troops to be trained in F-16 fighter jets as other countries will supply them to Ukraine.
The decision was made after months of refusals to Zelensky’s requests, precisely out of fear that the Ukrainian forces would use these fighters to attack inside Russia and escalate the conflict. The fear, however, is not new. It has been the main argument put forward in the West to delay the shipment, first of the HIMARS multiple launch missile systems, and then the Leopard heavy tanks.