5/23/2023–|Last updated: 5/23/202302:09 AM (Mecca Time)
Kiev denied any connection to the events in the Russian border region of Belgorod with Ukraine, at a time when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated that pockets of resistance are still in the city of Bakhmut, which Moscow declared full control of after 224 days of fighting.
Ukrainian intelligence spokesman Andrei Yusov said that two corps known as the “Russian Freedom Corps” and the “Russian Volunteer Corps” are carrying out an operation inside Belgorod to create what he called a security zone to protect Ukrainian civilians.
The governor of the Russian province of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that 8 people were injured as a result of an attack carried out by a Ukrainian “sabotage” group on the border province, and he also announced the activation of what he called the legal system for the anti-terrorism operation in Belgorod.
The governor of the Belgorod region said, “A sabotage and reconnaissance group of the Ukrainian army has entered the Gregoron region. The Russian armed forces – along with border guards – in Rosgvardia (National Guard) and the Russian Federal Security Service are taking all necessary measures to liquidate the enemy.”
“We are carrying out an evacuation operation (…) a large part of the population has left the area in question. We are helping those who do not have (transportation) with our means of transport,” Gladkov said via Telegram. He hoped that “our soldiers will soon complete their mission and destroy the enemy.”
A group calling itself the “Russian Freedom Corps” claimed responsibility for the attack.
For his part, a Kremlin spokesman said earlier Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been informed of the ongoing incursion into Russian territory by “saboteurs” from Ukraine.
The weapons are coming
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has returned to Ukraine after joining the G7 summit in Japan and traveling to Saudi Arabia to attend the Arab League summit.
“There will be more weapons for our fighters,” Zelensky said in a videotape recorded on the train on Monday. Then he gave an overview of the upcoming NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, next July, saying, “We are doing everything we can to ensure that the decisions at the summit are the ones that work for us.”
According to Zelensky, Ukraine’s foreign policy initiatives are bearing fruit. Adding: “Every time there will be more results for Ukraine: more air defense, artillery, armor technology, ammunition and training.”
Zelensky also praised the Ukrainian air defense, which he said had shot down 25 out of 25 Russian combat drones.
However, Ukraine did not succeed in shooting down all the Russian missiles, and thus Kiev will continue to improve its air defense system.
Zelensky demanded support in what he described as Ukraine’s defense struggle at the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia and later at the G7 summit in Japan, where he received a commitment in principle from the United States to deliver F-16 fighter jets.
It is noteworthy that the United States, during the G7 summit in Japan, gave the green light to start training Ukrainian pilots on American “F-16” fighters, a demand that Kiev has long directed to its allies.
Ukraine has been asking its allies to send modern fighters, especially the American F-16, to replace its old fleet of Soviet MiGs and Sukhoi planes.
While the president did not give further details, Zelensky said that the fighting in the heavily disputed eastern city of Bakhmut is still going on, after Russia announced that its forces had taken control of the entire city after months of fighting.
“Our forces are controlling some things in Bakhmut,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hana Malyar said on Telegram earlier Monday, adding that Russian forces were searching the areas they had captured for Ukrainian soldiers. Fighting continues around the hills to the north and south of the city.
Maliar said Russian forces were bringing in additional reserves. And she stressed that “the defense of Bakhmut performs its military mission,” adding that the Moscow forces suffered heavy losses and that their offensive capabilities had diminished.
The Bakhmut region of Donetsk has been in conflict for months. And at the beginning of this week, Moscow declared full control of the badly destroyed city, which had a population of 70,000. Zelensky soon questioned the Russian novel.
Capturing Bakhmut would mark Moscow’s first major victory in the more than 10-month struggle to capture the city.