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Putin accuses Ukrainian saboteurs of ‘terrorist act’ in border village

Putin - Mikhail Metzel

Putin – Mikhail Metzel

Vladimir Putin has accused a group of Ukrainian hostages of staging a “terror act” on a border Russian village.

Russia called for an urgent Security Council meeting after a group of armed men claimed to have staged the first cross-border attack by Ukrainian troops.

The obscure group, Russian Volunteer Corps, claims to be fighting alongside the Ukrainian army against the Russian armed forces.

Last month, Ukraine warned of a false flag operation in the same area, saying that Moscow could use it as an excuse to further escalate the war.

Vladimir Putin at a televised meeting with teachers on Thursday afternoon called the incident on the border a terrorist attack.

“Yet another crime,” he said.

“They infiltrated the border area and opened fire on civilians. They saw it was a civilian car, that there were children. They still fired on it.”

His spokesman earlier said the president would hold an urgent meeting the Security Council to discuss the incident.

Russia’s intelligence agency claimed a group of Ukrainian saboteurs attacked two border villages while Kremlin-linked outlets reported that hostages have been taken.

In a statement, the FSB said a border area in the Bryansk region was attacked by “armed Ukrainian nationalists” and Russian troops were clashing with them.

Later on Thursday, the FSB said the area was under its control and that law enforcement officers were working to de-fuse a number of explosive devices left there.

The FSB also confirmed the death of a local man. An 11-year-old child was reportedly injured in the attack.

The alleged attack on the villages of Sushany and Lyubechane was first reported by Alexander Bogomaz, the governor of the Bryansk region, who said a group of Ukrainian fighters breached the Russian border.

Soon, both state-owned news agencies and a few outlets connected to law enforcement agencies reported several people taken hostage by the Ukrainian fighters in Sushany.

Russian Volunteer Corps

Russian Volunteer Corps

Several news outlets and pro-war Telegram channels reported that men wearing yellow armbands had taken several dozen hostages in a village shop.

The head of the administration of a district that includes Sushany, however, told RT he had not heard of any hostage taking.

Two armed men in a video posted online stood on the steps of a clinic with a sign behind them identifying it as the village Lyubechane as they held the flag of their group and said they crossed the border into Russia.

“You do not fight with civilians. You do not kill unarmed people. Now is the time for ordinary Russians to understand that they are not enslaved. Rise up! Fight!” one of the two men said.

Russians who fought alongside Ukrainian troops previously hid their faces, fearing reprisals against their families in Russia.

Local authorities in Bryansk also refuted reports of an attack on a school bus, saying that all schools in the area are closed for remote learning.

Mr. Bogomaz, the Bryansk governor, however, said that a moving car had been shot at, killing the driver and injuring a ten-year-old child.

An hour after the attack was first reported, there did not appear to be any photographs or video from the scene.

If confirmed, the incident would mark the first time hostilities in Ukraine have spilled over into Russia, apart from stray shells landing in border areas and drone attacks on Russian military infrastructure.

Russia’s pro-war figures have urged the Kremlin to respond to the attack with an even fiercer assault on Ukraine.

Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya, in a Telegram post on Thursday called for strikes on Kyiv.

“We simply need to bomb out all the targets that are directly or indirectly connected to this attack – and let’s not worry about civilian sites nearby,” he said speaking of Kyiv.

“From now on, it should be a war without rules.”

He also called for martial law in the border regions, saying it was the one thing that could “keep the residents safe”.

Alexander Kots, a notorious war-mongering correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda, on Thursday urged the authorities for a retaliation attack against “all Ukrainian military commanders including the commander-in-chief”:

“They should not sleep in peace,” he said.

A top adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, described the incident as a deliberate false flag attack.

“The story about a Ukrainian sabotage group in Russia is a classic, deliberate provocation,” Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, tweeted on Thursday.

“Russia wants to scare its own people to justify an attack on another country and the growing poverty after the year of war.”

Just a week earlier, the Ukrainian command in the north said they were expecting a Russian false flag operation around the same area on the border.

The command in the north on February 23 said they were observing military vehicles without insignia and troops dressed in a uniform similar to that of the Ukrainian forces close to the border with Chernihiv.

The Ukrainian military then warned that those troops could be used to “accuse Ukrainian defenders of violating (Russia’s) territorial integrity”.

On Thursday, Leonid Volkov, a close ally of Russian jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, compared the reports to Nazi Germany’s false flag attack on the radio station in the town of Gleiwitz that Berlin tried to use to justify its attack on Poland.

“This smells very much like Gleiwitz so far,” Mr. Volkov tweeted.

“No visuals from the scene, only reports of ‘people in yellow armbands’.”

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