Russian authorities said Thursday that Ukrainian saboteurs crossed into Russia’s Bryansk Oblast, which borders Ukraine, and launched attacks on villages in the area, killing two civilians.
Ukrainian officials denied involvement in the attack and suggested Russians might have been responsible. “These are people who with weapons in their hands are fighting the Putin regime and those who support it… Maybe Russians will begin to wake up,” said Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence.
A group known as the Russian Volunteer Corps took credit for the attack and denied reports of civilian casualties. According to the Ukrainian news site Glavcom, the Russian Volunteer Corps is a group of “Russian right-wing volunteers formed in August 2022 who have been fighting for Ukraine since 2014 .”
Members of the Russian Volunteer Corps have fought in other Ukrainian military units, including the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment. The Russian Volunteer Corps is part of the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine, a group of volunteer fighters for the Ukrainian government. In a Telegram post, the Russian Volunteer Corps said they entered Russian territory from Ukraine.
“The Russian Volunteer Corps came to the Bryansk region to show their compatriots that there is hope, that free Russian people with weapons in their hands can fight the regime,” the post read.
The claims from the Russian Volunteer Corps aren’t confirmed, and Russian officials have not mentioned them by name. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “terrorist attack” and said the perpetrators intentionally targeted civilians. He compared the attack to the killing of Darya Dugina, who was killed in a car bombing outside of Moscow, an operation US intelligence believes the Ukrainian government was behind.
“They saw it was a civilian car, saw that civilians and children were inside, that it was just a Niva car, but no, they opened fire on them,” Putin said of the attack in Bryansk.
The Kremlin was asked if Moscow might respond to the incident by changing its classification of the conflict from a “special military operation (SMO),” which could mean a significant escalation of the war in Ukraine. ” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he “cannot say anything at this point” when asked about any possible change to the status of the SMO.