Alleged ‘terrorist’ attack in western Russia stokes pressure on Putin


Riga, Latvia — More than 24 hours after a strange incursion near the Russian-Ukrainian border that President Vladimir Putin dubbed a “terrorist attack” there was no new clarity about the incident, which officials said killed two people. They went.

But that didn’t stop government officials and propagandists from seizing on the episode in western Russia’s Bryansk region on Friday to strengthen their own positions, starting with Putin, who, along with state television commentators, criticized Russians. fueled fears that the nation is under constant threat of attack by terrorists.

Pro-war Russian hard-liners sought revenge and a tougher approach, with mercenary head Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group and bitter critic of Russia’s military, saying Russia’s “red line”—that it would But will not tolerate attacks. The area was crossed again.

“Red line?” Prigozhin said, answering a question through the press service. “It seems that our red color is gone, and the red color has been replaced by brown color.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine denied responsibility for the attack, insisting that it was a sign of internal strife in Russia and that growing anti-Putin sentiment had been fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The cacophony of reactions, including a claim of responsibility by the Russian Volunteer Corps, a group of Russian far-right white nationalists based in Ukraine fighting on Ukraine’s side in the war, highlighted the horrific information-war that is being waged in the war. Parallel to the actual fighting, and also on some sinister forces – mercenaries, paramilitary formations, nationalist movements and others – involved in both battles.

While the Russian Volunteer Corps has ties to the Ukrainian military, it operates independently, Ukrainian military officials said. It is also one of an array of fighting groups – Ukrainian, Russian and others – that do not necessarily answer to an official military chain of command.

Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, on Friday released video footage of two vehicles and passive drivers it claimed were victims killed by fighters. One vehicle bore the marks of dozens of bullets. The video and the death of the men could not be independently verified.

Whatever actually happened, Putin used the incident to express concern about Russia’s border security, already in question due to attacks inside Russia, including several drone incidents on Tuesday and recent The months included several attacks on Russian air bases, while Russian hard-liners used it to demand a tougher approach to the war.

Ahead of a meeting of Russia’s Security Council called on Friday in response to Thursday’s incident, Putin looked grim, warning about the country’s security and the need to protect law enforcement bases. “Colleagues, today we have to discuss one but very important issue: anti-terrorist protection of sites of law enforcement agencies,” Putin said before leaving for a closed meeting of the Council.

Radical nationalists expressed anger that the attack apparently went unpunished after self-proclaimed criminals reportedly slipped back into Ukraine. For weeks, such hardliners have cast doubt on the Russian military’s ability to deliver a major blow to the Ukrainian army as Moscow’s offensive on several fronts in Ukraine only makes glacial progress.

After months of fighting for control of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine and thousands of casualties on each side, Wagner’s fighters led by Prigozhin claimed on Friday they were on the verge of taking control of the city’s shattered ruins, marking a long-awaited victory. Will happen. Victory for Russia. But Ukrainian military officials insisted their units were not withdrawing.

Kremlin blames Ukraine for violent attack in western Russia

In any case, Western military analysts argue that the capture of Bakhmut would provide little military advantage to Russia, given the losses on the battlefield, and that Ukraine has already made preparations for withdrawal.

Russia’s investigative agency for major crimes on Friday opened a terrorism case to investigate Thursday’s cross-border attack. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said steps would be taken to prevent a recurrence of such attacks.

Russian officials claimed that fighters crossed into Ukraine on Thursday, attacked two villages, took several people hostage, killed two people and wounded a boy and fled back across the border, leaving several explosive devices behind. left.

But details of the attack remained extremely sketchy, with no video or clear description of the incident emerging, unusual in a war when major events are routinely filmed and uploaded.

The Russian Volunteer Corp posted two videos of fighters – one showing its leader, Denis Kapustin, outside a clinic in the village of Lyubechne in western Russia near the border with Ukraine – offering the only clear evidence that the infiltration took place .

Calls to Kapustin’s phone were made Friday, but questions went unanswered. A text message response to its user declined to discuss Thursday’s intrusion and declined to comment on FSB claims that two civilians were killed.

“I can’t divulge any details about tomorrow’s operation,” the text message said, “so if you want to speak on smth seperately you are welcome.” However, the user did not respond to further calls or messages.

Kapustin is a well-known far-right figure who lived in Germany for many years and was associated with hooligans involved in football violence.

The Russian Volunteer Corps, formed in August, is an anti-Kremlin group that believes Putin is threatening ethnic Russians by turning Russia into a police state. It sees Putin as worse, disdaining the pro-European outlook of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The purpose of the attack, according to a video posted by the group, was to show Russian citizens that they can take up arms and rise up against Putin. Some Russian critics of the Kremlin suspected that the incident could be a Russian disinformation campaign aimed at justifying a major escalation in the war.

As Russia’s military effort has waned, Putin has come under increasing pressure from pro-war hardliners, whose criticisms of the Russian military have largely been tolerated because they show Russian support for the war despite high Russian casualties. Let’s strengthen.

Heavy fighting as Russians advance at Bakhmut, but Ukrainian units hold

Yuri Kotenok, a military journalist and fervent supporter of the invasion, said Thursday’s incursion was “the clear and visible fruit of the enemy’s brazenness”. Moscow’s failure to pay attention to fugitives attacking Russia and “fifth columnists” inside the country only emboldened the enemy, “precisely because of our lack of resistance to evil,” Kotenok wrote on his Telegram blog.

“What else does Moscow need to do to stop being impotent in its retaliatory measures against the enemy? Should Ukrainians destroy the nuclear power plant or reach Red Square?” he wrote. “We need to act!”

Like many other hard-liners, Kotenok blamed “incompetence of the military leadership” and “limited armaments capabilities” for Russia’s failure to reduce aggression against Ukraine.

War blogger and publicist Semyon Pegov reprimanded Russian border officials for allowing members of the Russian Volunteer Corps to flee Russian territory after the incursion.

“In general, if the terrorists fled, this requires more than really serious measures. Another question is whether our border guards are provided with sufficient resources to perform their duties, ”Pegov wrote.

Kremlin spokesman Peskov said no decision had been made on imposing martial law in border areas after Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, whose paramilitary forces are fighting alongside Russian troops in Ukraine, called for such a move and ” Maximum level” reaction “in areas bordering Ukraine.

One Year of Russia’s War in Ukraine

Pictures of Ukraine: Every Ukrainian’s life has changed – in ways both big and small – since Russia launched its full-scale invasion a year ago. They have learned to survive and support each other in extreme conditions, in bomb shelters and hospitals, in destroyed apartment complexes and ruined markets. Scroll through portraits of Ukrainians depicting a year of loss, resilience and fear.

Battle of Attrition: Over the past year, the war has been fueled by a multi-front offensive involving Kiev in the north, largely concentrated with expanding territory to the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian armies and see where the fighting is concentrated.

One year apart: Russia’s invasion, along with Ukraine’s martial law preventing fighting-age men from leaving the country, have forced millions of Ukrainian families to make painful decisions about balancing security, duty and love , the once interconnected life is becoming increasingly difficult to recognize. Here’s what a train station full of goodbyes looked like last year.

Deepening Global Divide: President Biden has characterized the Western alliance built during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look reveals that the world is far from united on the issues raised by the Ukraine war. There is plenty of evidence that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions have not deterred Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.

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