Ukraine scolded over use of American weapons in attack on Russian city

Ukraine: Smoke rises from Russian border post in Kozinka

Joe Biden’s administration appeared frustrated at claims US armoured vehicles had been used in the alleged incursion on Russian territory by Ukrainian forces. US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Wednesday that the White House is “looking into those reports that the US equipment and vehicles could have been involved”.

In a scolding tone for Ukraine, he said: “We’ve been pretty darn clear: We don’t support the use of US-made equipment for attacks inside Russia.

“We’ve been clear about that with the Ukrainians.

“I won’t get into private discussions that we’re having with them. But I think we’ve been nothing but consistent about our concerns in that regard.”

On Tuesday, a US state department spokesman acknowledged they saw images “circulating on social media and elsewhere” of US supplied weapons but added they remained “sceptical at this time of the veracity of these reports”.

Matthew Miller added: “It is up to Ukraine to decide how to conduct this war.”

Russia’s military said Tuesday it quashed what appeared to be one of the most serious cross-border attacks from Ukraine since the war began.

Moscow blamed the raid that began Monday on Ukrainian military saboteurs.

Ukraine denied any involvement in the skirmishes Monday and Tuesday, instead blaming two Russian groups that claim to be volunteers fighting alongside Kyiv’s forces in an uprising against the government of President Vladimir Putin.

While neither version could be independently verified, whatever happened appears to have sent Moscow scrambling to respond to one of the most serious border incursions since Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

On Wednesday, Russia’s Defence Minister said his country will will react to attacks by Ukrainian militants like the one on Belgorod region in an “extremely harsh manner”.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said an elderly woman died in the chaotic evacuation, and 12 people were wounded in the attack and shelling. As fighting there apparently continued into Tuesday morning, he urged residents not to return to their homes, and only in the late afternoon declared that the operation was over.

Two groups — the Freedom of Russia Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps – claimed responsibility for the attack and announced an ambitious goal of “liberating” the Belgorod region. Little is known about them beyond what they say about themselves.

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The website of the Freedom of Russia Legion says it was formed last spring “out of Russians’ desire to fight against Putin’s armed gang” and is “officially recognised” by Kyiv’s military. “We are fighting in full cooperation with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and under the leadership of the Ukrainian command,” the website says.

The website said it fought last summer in “small battle groups”, and now was involved in the battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut.

The Russian Volunteer Corps’ page in the messaging app Telegram used to say it was a formation within the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It now describes itself as merely fighting on the Ukrainian side.

In August 2022, an announcement posted there said: “We, Russian volunteers living in Ukraine, decided to take up arms and create a military formation, the Russian Volunteer Corps, in order to together with our Ukrainian comrades defend their homeland which gave us shelter, and then continue the fight against the criminal Putin regime and his henchmen.”

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