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‘Ukrainian saboteurs’ Russia says a ‘sabotage and reconnaissance group’ crossed into the Bryansk region from Ukraine. Here’s what we know.

Source: Meduza

Alexander Bogomaz, the governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, said Thursday that a “sabotage and reconnaissance group” from Ukraine had entered the region “from Ukraine.”

These claims have not been verified.

According to Bogomaz, the “saboteurs” entered Liubechane, a village in the region’s Klimovsky District that borders Ukraine, and fired on a vehicle, killing one civilian and injuring a 10-year-old. Russian propaganda outlets reported that a school bus came under fire, but regional authorities denied this. The Telegram channel Shot reported that two people were killed.

The Telegram channels Mash and Baza reported that a total of 40–50 “saboteurs” entered the Bryansk region. The Russian state news agency TASS said that the group contained “several dozen armed people.” The Telegram channel 112, meanwhile, reported that the “saboteurs” were divided into two groups that went to two villages about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from one another, Liubechane and Sushany.

Meduza cannot immediately verify these claims.
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A source from Russia’s security forces reportedly told TASS that the “saboteurs” entered two villages and took six people hostage in one of the villages, and that fighting then broke out between the “saboteurs” and Russian National Guard officers. Regional authorities said that Russian security forces are working throughout the village of Sushany. According to Baza, an electrical substation and a gas station exploded in the village. Some media outlets reported that people were taken hostage in Sushany, but regional authorities denied this. The state news outlet RIA Novosti said that multiple people were taken hostage in a store in Liubechane.

According to TASS, multiple people have been killed and injured in the armed clashes with the “saboteurs,” though no precise number was given.

The Russian FSB said that it’s working with the Russian Defense Ministry to take “measures to destroy the armed Ukrainian nationalists that have violated the state border.”

Shortly thereafter, an organization called the Russian Volunteer Corps published a video on its Telegram that was made on the doorstep of a nursing facility in Liubechane. In the video, two fighters stated that they “do not fight civilians,” and called on Russian citizens to “revolt and fight.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, called reports of “Ukrainian saboteurs” a “classic provocation” and urged Russia to “fear its partisans.” Ukrainian Border Guard Service spokesman Andriy Demchenko also called reports of “Ukrainian saboteurs” in Russia unfounded. “The fact that Russia is now disseminating information about some Ukrainian saboteurs on the territory of Russia, I can point out that Ukraine is not the aggressor, our main task is defense and protection from the occupying country. What could have happened on Russian territory, I do not know anything,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin cancelled his trip to the Stavropol region, where he was to participate in the opening of the Year of the Teacher, because of the incident in the Bryansk region. Putin called what happened a “terrorist attack,” saying that “they opened fire on civilians.”

Russia’s Bryansk region contains a section of the Druzhba oil pipeline, which Russian media outlets have previously accused Ukraine of trying to attack, as well as a closed military airbase.

Update: TASS, citing eyewitnesses, reported that the “saboteurs” had left Russian territory. “There is no one from the Ukrainian group on Russian territory anymore, they have all left. Now there is a search, possibly for any remaining Ukrainian fighters on our territory,” said one of the people the agency spoke to.
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