- Russian authorities reported an attack on two villages in the Bryansk region, claiming that several dozen saboteurs infiltrated from Ukraine, killed two civilians and planted explosives.
- In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled a scheduled trip and described the incident as a “terrorist attack”.
- Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described the Russian claims as “a classic deliberate provocation”.
- Security analysts are divided on who was behind the attack.
- The purported attack has caused outrage among Russian hawks and embarrassment for Putin.
Early Thursday Morning Attack
Early Thursday morning, Russian authorities reported an attack on the villages of Lyubechane and Suchany in the Bryansk region, claiming that several dozen saboteurs infiltrated from Ukraine, killed two civilians and planted explosives.
In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled a scheduled trip to an event in southern Russia, describing the incident as a “terrorist attack” deliberately targeting civilians.
Hours later, the Russian authorities said the intruders were pushed back into Ukraine and targeted by artillery fire.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described the Russian claims as “a classic deliberate provocation”, saying that Russia “wants to scare its people to justify the attack on another country and the growing poverty after the year of war”. Ukraine’s military intelligence representative, Andrii Cherniak, similarly denied Ukraine’s involvement while also alleging that Russia is facing an uprising among its own disgruntled people.
The Russian Volunteer Corps released a video featuring its members standing outside a post office in one of the villages and urging the Russians to rebel against Putin.
Ukrainian New voice-NV news portal quoted Ilya Bogdanov, who identified himself as a member of the Corps, confirming that his colleagues who crossed into the Bryansk region were serving in the Ukrainian army.
Security Analysts Divided
Security analysts are divided on who was behind the attack.
Mark Cancian argued that Ukraine could have launched the attack to force Russia to pull back some of its forces from the front line to tighten the border.
Eleonora Tafuro said it appears possible the attack was carried out by the Russian Volunteer Corps to foment a sense of insecurity among the local population.
Brad Bowman warned against quickly rushing to conclusions, noting that the Kremlin could be interested in rallying the public as the war drags on.
William Courtney argued that the purported attack could be a false-flag operation.
Outrage and Embarrassment
The purported attack has caused outrage among Russian hawks, who harshly criticized the Kremlin for failing to protect the border and mount a quick and forceful retaliation.
Putin cast the purported attack as proof that Russia did the right thing by invading Ukraine, but he didn’t signal an intention to change the status of the operation or ramp up strikes.
The incident has also been an embarrassment for Putin, who had told officials to tighten protection of the long and porous border with Ukraine earlier in the week.
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