Ukraine says Russia moved nukes near border as raid stretches into second day
BY BRAD DRESS – 05/23/23 12:27 PM ET
Russia moved to clear out a nuclear weapons storage facility in Belgorod as fighting in the region continued into a second day Tuesday, with Russian forces cracking down on armed revolutionary groups that attempted to seize control of local towns.
Russian troops have taken back control of the towns of Kozinka and Grayvoron, according to media accounts, but Moscow’s forces are still searching for armed militants across the region.
Russian military bloggers said most of the “Ukrainian terrorists” were driven back to Ukraine or were destroyed by air strikes, artillery fire and Russian forces.
Amid the fighting, Moscow transported nuclear weapons out of the Belgorod-22 facility in the region as people quickly evacuated the building, said Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, on Ukrainian television, according to Ukrainian media.
Several people were injured, and at least one person died during the ground fighting across Belgorod, according to a Telegram post from Vyacheslav Gladkov, the region’s governor.
Gladkov said Russian officials are still evacuating civilians from the towns of Glotovo and Kozinka, with at least 100 people successfully evacuated so far.
On Monday, defecting Russians opposed to the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin claimed responsibility for the march into Belgorod, a territory that borders Ukraine. They swiftly announced the liberation of Kozinka and Gora-Podol before moving into Grayvoron.
On social media, the militants decried what they called widespread corruption in Moscow and urged Russians in Belgorod not to oppose them, arguing resistance troops were moving to free them from Putin’s control.
Ukrainian officials said the soldiers were part of resistance groups and not the Ukrainian army, but they welcomed the movement from the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, which have been fighting for Kyiv since last year.
Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to the head of the office for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Ukraine was “watching the events in the Belgorod region of Russia with interest and studying the situation, but it has nothing to do with it.”
“Underground guerrilla groups are composed of Russian citizens,” Podolyak tweeted.
Russia identifies the resistance groups as part of Kyiv’s armed forces and has called the operations inside its territory a terrorist attack orchestrated by Ukrainian saboteurs.Texas AG calls on GOP state House leader to resign, alleging intoxication at workHouse votes in favor of overturning Biden truck pollution rule
The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a probe into the attack on Belgorod, according to Russian state-run media outlet TASS.
The counterterrorism operation launched by Moscow to stamp out the invading forces includes Russia’s armed forces, the Federal Security Service and the nation’s border patrol.
Under the counterterrorism operation, Russia is imposing personal document checks and stopping the work of some companies with explosives.