Vladimir Putin Calls Ukrainian “Infiltration” Into Russia “Terrorist” | War in Ukraine
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Russian President Vladimir Putin during his annual state of the nation address at the Gostiny Dvor conference center in central Moscow on February 21. (File photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denounced a “terrorist” attack after Moscow reported an incursion by Ukrainian “saboteurs” into a region of the southwestern Russia bordering Ukraine, which Kiev has denied.
According to Russian authorities, two civilians were killed and an 11-year-old child injured after saboteurs opened fire on a car in the village of Lyubetchané, in the Bryansk region, located just on the border with Russia. Ukraine.
Russian news agencies, citing unnamed witnesses and officials, further reported that the alleged attackers may have taken hostages. AFP was unable to immediately verify these claims.
The Ukrainian presidency has denied these allegations, seeing them as a deliberate provocation which, according to it, aims to justify the military offensive that Moscow has been carrying out in Ukraine for more than a year.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, several Russian regions have been targeted by bombardments and rare incursions by saboteurs.
In a speech broadcast on television, Mr. Putin denounced an attack by neo-Nazis and terrorists who opened fire on civilians. We will crush them, he launched.
According to the Kremlin, Putin has canceled a planned trip to the Russian Caucasus on Thursday to monitor developments in the Bryansk region.
We are talking about a terrorist attack. Steps are being taken to destroy terrorists, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
In the evening, the security services (FSB, heir to the KGB) claimed that the situation was under control, the Ukrainian nationalists having been pushed back towards Ukraine and targeted there by a massive artillery strike .
According to the FSB, a large number of explosives were found and clearance operations were underway.
According regional governor Alexander Bogomaz, a reconnaissance and sabotage group infiltrated from Ukraine into the village of Lyubetchane in the Klimovsk district of the Bryansk region.
The saboteurs opened fire on a moving vehicle, killing two residents and injuring a child, he claimed.
This saboteur story is a deliberate, classic provocation. Russia wants to scare its population to justify its offensive, reacted on Twitter Mykhaïlo Podoliak, adviser to the Ukrainian presidency.
In two videos posted on social media, four men in fatigues posing as members of a group of Russian volunteers within the Ukrainian army claim infiltration in the Bryansk region.
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Images of Bakhmout filmed from the air by a drone. The footage was shot on February 13.
In these viral videos, the authenticity of which AFP could not verify, the men deny taking hostages or killing civilians, and criticize Moscow.
In addition, Mr. Bogomaz reported a Ukrainian drone attack on the village of Souchany, which caused the burning of a house, as well as mortar fire which damaged two houses in the locality from Lomakovka, also in the Bryansk region.
And in the Kursk region, which also borders Ukraine, one person was killed in a Ukrainian shelling of the village of Tetkino, authorities said.
Moscow has reported this week an upsurge in Ukrainian drone incursions into Russian territory and into annexed Crimea. An aircraft even crashed, for the first time, in the Moscow region.
In Ukraine, at least three people were killed and six others injured in a strike on an apartment building in Zaporizhia, southern Ukraine, overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, according to local authorities.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced an act of a terrorist state. We will drive out all occupants and they will answer for everything, he added.
Ukraine on Thursday ordered vulnerable people to evacuate the city of Kupyansk , on the northeastern front, which risks being taken by Russian forces, the military administration announced.
The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Synegoubov, claimed that several localities, including Kupyansk, had been bombarded with multiple rocket launchers by Russian forces.
No improvement on the diplomatic front either: A meeting of G20 foreign ministers in New Delhi on Thursday was marked by deep divisions.
The participants could not agree on a final declaration, as Moscow and Beijing refused to sign it.
Even if the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, had a brief contact, the latter felt that the West had turned this G20 meeting into a farce.
US President Joe Biden receives German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday to send a message of unity to Moscow and Beijing, after a period of tensions between Washington and Berlin over discussions on the delivery of tanks to Ukraine.
Mr. Scholz reported Thursday on discussions with Kyiv and other allied countries on future security commitments for Ukraine.
Mr. Biden will also host European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the White House on March 10 to also discuss support for Ukraine.
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