Russia says it killed 234 fighters while thwarting an incursion from Ukraine

 FIGHTERS of Russian Volunteer Corps in  Sumy region, Ukraine, on May 24, 2023.   /
FIGHTERS of Russian Volunteer Corps in Sumy region, Ukraine, on May 24, 2023. / AP

UKRAINIAN long-range drones smashed into two oil facilities deep inside Russia on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 officials said, while an armed incursion claimed by Ukraine-based Russian opponents of the Kremlin unnerved a border region just days before Russia’s presidential election.

The attack by waves of drones across eight regions of Russia displayed Kyiv’s expanding technological capacity as the war extends into its third year. The cross-border ground assault also weakened President Vladimir Putin’s argument that life in Russia has been unaffected by the war, though he remains all but certain to win another six-year term after eliminating all opposition.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that Moscow’s military and security forces killed 234 fighters while thwarting the incursion. In a statement, the ministry blamed the attack on the “Kyiv regime” and “Ukraine’s terrorist formations,” insisting that the Russian military and border forces were able to stop the attackers and avert a cross-border raid. It also said the attackers lost seven tanks and five armored vehicles.

The reports of border fighting earlier on Tuesday were murky, and it was impossible to ascertain with any certainty what was unfolding in Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions. Cross-border attacks in the area have occurred sporadically since the war began and have been the subject of claims and counterclaims, as well as disinformation and propaganda.

Soldiers who Kyiv officials say are Russian volunteers fighting for Ukraine claimed to have crossed the border. The Freedom of Russia Legion, the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Siberian Battalion released statements and videos on social media claiming to show them on Russian territory. They said they wanted “a Russia liberated from Putin’s dictatorship.”

The authenticity of the videos couldn’t be independently verified.

Fighters coming out of Ukraine attempted to reach the town of Tetkino, which lies close to the border, according to the governor of Russia’s Kursk region, Roman Starovoit. He said Tetkino was being shelled. / AP

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