Russian armed opposition: attacks in Belgorod and Kursk disrupted Russia’s offensive in Ukraine

Russian volunteer fighters allied with the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) refer to attacks in Belgorod and Kursk regions as a "limited military operation" that thwarted a significant Russian offensive on Ukrainian territories.

"Putin's army aimed to carry out considerable strikes by Putin's inauguration day. Thus, our operation disrupted their plans. They were forced to redeploy substantial forces from the Kupyansk direction to maintain control of their Kursk and Belgorod regions," stated Aleksei Baranovsky, a representative of the Freedom of Russia Legion during a press conference in Kyiv. He reported that in response to a morning missile strike on Kyiv on March 21, formations of Russian volunteers hit a military target hosting at least nine Russian servicemen.

Denis Nikitin, commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps (known by the call sign White Rex), described the ongoing battles in the Belgorod region, now in their tenth day, as "opening a second front." "We have managed to bring full-scale combat operations to enemy territory. What was once the Russian state border an entrenched zone is now an extension of the front line," he added.

Representatives of Russian volunteer units within the UAF claim that over 10 days, the Russian army suffered 651 fatalities and over 900 wounded. "Russian liberation forces have destroyed 121 units of enemy equipment, with another 50 units disabled," added Baranovsky.

Russia's Defense Ministry does not disclose military losses, instead accusing the Ukrainian armed forces of causing numerous civilian casualties due to artillery shelling and air strikes. "Local residents are doing the utmost right thing by hiding in cellars. We have repeatedly announced 'humanitarian corridors' for the evacuation of civilians and essentially ceased combat operations at night. We urged the evacuation of Belgorod and Kursk, but for regional authorities, conducting so-called 'elections' was more important," Baranovsky noted.

The "special operation," as the participants of Russian volunteer formations fighting alongside Ukraine call it, became the largest incursion into Russian territory in two years of full-scale war. Officially, the UAF denies participating in combat on Russian soil, stating that these operations are the exclusive responsibility of the "Russian liberation movement."

"When we are in Ukraine, we are UAF servicemembers—obeying Ukrainian command, equipped with Ukrainian weapons. When we go into Russian territory, we are no longer UAF servicemen but citizens of Russia who have picked up arms—trophy weapons. In Russia, we operate as a rebel, partisan army," clarified Baranovsky.

The Freedom of Russia Legion, Russian Volunteer Corps, and the Siberia Battalion, in a joint statement, promised to expand the scale of military raids deep into Russia. However, Nikitin acknowledged that their current composition and numbers do not yet allow them to "capture district centers and cities and hold them."

  War in Ukraine, Belgorod, Kursk, Freedom of Russia Legion