Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine invaded Russia's Belgorod region on Monday and released a video of the operation. This is not the first time military action has taken place on Russian territory during the current war. However, it may now be a test of the enemy's fighting capabilities ahead of the long-awaited Ukrainian counter-offensive, experts say.
Hundreds of Russian volunteers from the Liberty of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), fighting on the side of Ukraine, invaded Russia's Belgorod Oblast on Monday, seizing a border checkpoint. The unit advanced on the settlements of Glotovo and Graivoron.
Colonel Eero Rebo, head of the General Staff of the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit), told ERR show "Aktuaalne kaamera," that the Belgorod operation was logical, Ukraine has been shelled from that region during the war. Diversions have also come across the front line from there, he said. Rebo added, that the attack is likely connected to the expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.
"With the expectation that the Ukrainians will imminently launch a counter-attack, by creating problems for the opposing side on new fronts, including Belgorod, Ukraine is creating a situation, whereby the Russians are finding it increasingly difficult to build up reserves and use those reserves in a rational way," Rebo said.
The aim is certainly not to conquer territory, but to keep the enemy on its toes in different parts of the front and to control the resistance. Rebo added, that it is also important to note, that the attack took place at the same time as Russia announced its capture of Bakhmut and that it was Russians, who took part in it.
"If it were possible to obtain intelligence information from there, and glean what can be expected from the opponent from that direction, or to carry out diversionary acts that would consume the opponent's resources - all of these things would again contribute to a Ukrainian victory," Rebo said.
"Another important aspect is that Russian citizens are also alleged to have been involved in the attacks in Belgorod Oblast. Whether there will now be some kind of Vlasov army-like formation in Russia, we don't know," said defense expert Kalev Stoicescu, referring to the Russian Liberation Army (ROA), primarily comprised of Russian soldiers, which fought against the Soviets in World War 2.
Russia's defense ministry released a drone video to prove that the attack had been repelled and its proponents pushed back to the Ukrainian side of the border.
Editor: Michael Cole