KIEV, Ukraine — Russian officials say Ukrainian military saboteurs attacked the Russia-Ukraine border on Monday, wounding three people in a small town. Kiev denied any links with the group and blamed the fighting on an insurgency by Russians disaffected with the Kremlin.
Neither version of events has been independently verified in a region that has seen sporadic fallout from nearly 15 months of war in Ukraine.
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, said a group of saboteurs from the Ukrainian armed forces entered the town of Gravoron, about five kilometers (three miles) from the border. He said the city had also been targeted by Ukrainian artillery.
Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov detailed that three people were wounded by shrapnel in the attack. It said three houses and an administrative building were damaged.
In the village near Zamostye, a shell hit a kindergarten, starting a fire. A woman was wounded in the arm, Gladkov said, adding that Russian anti-aircraft systems shot down a drone in the Belgorod region.
Gladkov said an anti-terrorist operation was underway and authorities were imposing special controls, including checking personal documents and suspending the activities of companies using “explosive, radioactive, chemical and biologically hazardous substances”. Included.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had been informed about the alleged raid by the sabotage group. “Efforts are being made to drive them out of Russian territory and eliminate them,” he added.
Peskov described the action as an attempt by Ukraine to divert attention from the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Moscow claimed to have captured after months of fighting, but where Kiev says fighting is still ongoing.
However, Ukrainian military intelligence officers have not confirmed that Kiev has deployed the saboteurs. Instead, he claimed that Russian citizens seeking regime change in Moscow were behind the raid on Gravoron.
Ukraine’s intelligence representative Andriy Chernyak said Russian civilians belonging to shadowy groups calling themselves the Russian Volunteer Corps and the “Freedom of Russia” army were behind the attack.
Mykhailo Podolić, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Twitter that Ukraine “has nothing to do with this.” He suggested that an “armed guerrilla movement” was behind the attack.