Russia said Thursday that its forces repelled another cross-border attack from Ukraine in Russia’s Belgorod region, the second such incident within two weeks.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that over 30 Ukrainian “terrorists” were “eliminated” in the attempted attack on the town of Shebekino, which is about four miles from the Ukrainian border, and eight civilians on the Russian side were injured. Russia evacuated some civilians from the area.
Two groups of Russian volunteers who have been fighting for Kyiv took credit for the attack, the Russian Volunteer Corps and Freedom of Russia Legion. Both groups also said they were responsible for a similar attack on Belgorod that was launched on May 22.
The Russian Volunteer Corps includes members who are openly neo-Nazis, and its leader, Denis Nikitin, is a well-known white nationalist. He previously told Financial Times that his fighters used American armored vehicles in the May 22 raid.
The May 22 attack prompted the US to reiterate to Ukraine not to use US weapons on Russian territory, although the restriction doesn’t apply to Crimea. There hasn’t been any sign yet that Thursday’s attack was carried out with US weapons.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said that Belgorod was shelled on Thursday with Grad multiple launch rocket systems, a Soviet-era system. Moscow said the attackers were supported by tanks and other vehicles but didn’t specify what kind.
US weapons being used on Russian territory risks a major escalation of the war. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that President Biden’s opposition to signing off on US arms being used on Russia is rooted in his desire to “avoid World War III.”