Pro-Kyiv Russian group says it ‘didn’t lose a single soldier’ in cross-border raids on Belgorod

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FRANCE 24 spoke to exiled Russian opposition figure Ilya Ponomarev, the political representative of the Freedom of Russia Legion. This Ukraine-based paramilitary group of Russian volunteers has been involved in cross-border incursions into Russia’s Belgorod region in the past last few days. Ponomarev claimed the pro-Ukrainian, anti-Putin group “didn’t lose a single soldier” and is successfully making progress inside Russia. Ultimately, “our guys will be in Moscow and Putin will not be in the Kremlin”, he predicted. 

Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Kyiv where he lives in exile, Ponomarev claimed the Freedom of Russia Legion “didn’t lose a single soldier” while launching this week’s cross-border raids from Ukraine into Russian territory. 

He denied claims by Russian authorities that they have crushed the paramilitary forces, killing 70 fighters.

Along with the far-right Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), the Freedom of Russia Legion has taken control of a 40-kilometre strip along the Russian-Ukrainian border and is advancing inside Russia, he added. 

>> Read more: Ukraine denies Russian accusations of attacking border region of Belgorod

Ponomarev acknowledged that his paramilitary group, whose ultimate objective is to overthrow the Russian regime, received a “green light” from the Ukrainians before launching the raids, as his troops “are part of the Ukrainian military”.

Nevertheless, the former Russian lawmaker insisted that “not a single Ukrainian soldier has entered Russian soil”, calling the raids “a totally autonomous operation by Russians inside Russia”.


Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine
Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine © France Médias Monde graphic studio

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