The United States has distanced itself from the incursion of a suspected sabotage group into Russia’s Belgorod region after photos emerged of American-made military vehicles on Russian territory. Meanwhile, Russia has accused Ukraine of attacking the Ivan Hurs warship.
On Monday, parts of the border region of Belgorod were the target of an attack by a group of saboteurs who invaded Russian territory from Ukraine. The attack was allegedly carried out by the anti-Kremlin militias, the Legion of Free Russia and the Russian Volunteer Corps, which are based in Ukraine, but Kiev has denied involvement in their attacks.
On Tuesday evening, the Russian authorities announced that they had defeated the saboteur group, killing more than 70 of their members. As a result of the intrusion, an anti-terrorist regime was introduced in the region, granting extensive powers to the security forces.
According to the BBC, Russian authorities later released photos of abandoned and damaged US-made Humvee military vehicles. In Washington, they denied involvement in the attacks and announced that the United States did not encourage or enable saboteurs to enter Russian territory.
A spokesperson for the US State Department Matthew Miller said they were aware of the photos of the US military vehicles, but said they were skeptical of the veracity of the reports at this time. “But as we also said, it is up to Ukraine to decide how to conduct this war,” he added.
Meanwhile, the American newspaper New York Times reported that at least three American armored military vehicles were used in the attack on Belgorod. Two of these vehicles, known as MRAPs (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected), were apparently confiscated by the Russian side, the newspaper said on Tuesday, based on an analysis of photos and videos posted on Telegram, among others.
However, it is not clear how the pro-Ukrainian attackers got hold of these vehicles and how they ended up in Russian hands, the newspaper also reported, stating that the United States had made several hundred of these vehicles available to the Ukrainian army.
The Belgorod region was once again the target of drone attacks at night, local authorities said. According to the governor of Belgorod Vyacheslav Gladkov many drones attacked the region, causing material damage and no injuries reported.
“The night was not entirely peaceful. There have been many drone attacks,” Gladkov posted on social media.
According to him, material damage was caused in the attacks in the city of Belgorod itself and also in other cities in the region. Cars, houses and administrative buildings were damaged. A gas pipeline was damaged in the Grajvoron district, and a small fire broke out. Russian anti-aircraft defense disabled most of the drones, he added.
Moscow launched an investigation into the hack
In connection with the armed attack in Belgorod, the Russian authorities announced that they had launched an investigation due to “terrorist act“. “Measures are being taken to establish the identity of the attackers and all the circumstances of the incident,” the competent investigative committee, which investigates major cases in Russia, wrote in a statement.
According to investigators, they have opened an investigation into a number of crimes, including “terrorist attacks“, attempted murder, destruction or damage to property, and illegal trafficking in weapons and explosives.
Since the beginning of the war, the Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine has been the target of shelling several times, in which several people have been killed and wounded.
Russia accuses Ukraine of attempting to attack a military ship
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that unmanned Ukrainian speedboats attacked the Russian warship Ivan Hurs off the Bosphorus Strait in the Black Sea.
“All enemy vessels were destroyed by fire from the Russian ship’s standard armament 140 km northeast of the Bosphorus,” they wrote.
Russia also announced that a military ship was guarding the TurkStream and Blue Stream gas pipelines in the area.
Prigozhin warns against the possibility of Russia’s defeat in Ukraine
Head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin on Tuesday again criticized the course of the invasion in Ukraine and warned of possible defeat.
“We must prepare for an extremely difficult war. In order for Russia not to lose, it is necessary to declare a state of war and redirect the economy to the production of ammunition. But we must also start with new mobilizations,Prigozhin said in a conversation with the former Russian ombudsman Konstantin Dolgov.
Ukraine is preparing a counter-offensive aimed at pushing Russian troops back to the borders from before 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, according to Prigozhin. Ukraine will try to encircle Bahmut and attack Crimea, he added.
Ukrainian army “one of the best in the world”
He praised the Ukrainian army, calling it one of the best in the world. “They have a high level of organization, a high level of training, a high level of intelligence, a variety of weapons and work successfully with all systems, both Soviet and NATO,” he added.
He said the opposite about the Russian soldiers and recalled that during the invasion they left their positions both in the vicinity of Kiev and in Kherson. Moscow is also doing poorly in achieving the goal of demilitarization of Ukraine, he emphasized. Today, Kiev has significantly more weapons and fighters than before the start of the invasion, reports the German news agency DPA.
New criticisms of the defense minister
Russian Ministry of Defense To Sergey Shoigu he again criticized that he was not providing Wagner’s units with the necessary amount of ammunition and reinforcements. He is convinced that Wagner could capture the entire Donetsk Basin in a short time if they received 200,000 troops from the Russian forces.
“Wagner has 6,000 commanders who could command a total of 600,000 troops. However, some in the military leadership fear that Wagner’s forces could oppose the authorities and even attack Moscow,” he said.
Criticism of the Russian elite, whose attitude to the war “could cause turmoil”
He estimated that approximately 10,000 of the 50,000 prisoners recruited by Wagner had been killed since the beginning of the invasion. “Their deaths affected tens of thousands of relatives,” he said.
He also criticized the Russian elite, whose children live comfortably and “sunbathe abroad“, while men from impoverished regions are dying in Ukraine. This situation could lead Russia to once again face upheavals along the lines of the 1917 revolutions that led to civil war.
Stoltenberg: NATO members divided on Ukraine’s membership
Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg meanwhile, he admitted that the members of the alliance are divided on the question of Ukraine’s membership before the July summit in Vilnius. “There are different positions in the Alliance on this issue,” said Stoltenberg in Brussels, reminding that NATO takes decisions by consensus.
Stoltenberg reiterated his position that Ukraine’s future is in NATO, but that it cannot join the alliance in time of war.
According to diplomats, the United States and several other allies at the July summit do not want to go further than the statement from Bucharest, in which the NATO summit in 2008 promised Ukraine and Georgia the possibility of joining the alliance, but did not specify a timetable.
According to one of the diplomats, discussions are underway for “laying the groundwork for a membership compromise“, reports the French news agency AFP. One of the possibilities could thus be to provide security guarantees, such as those obtained by Sweden, whose accession is blocked by Turkey and Hungary.
WHO members condemned the attacks on Ukrainian healthcare
The member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) condemned Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian medical facilities at their annual meeting in Geneva. In the resolution adopted today, they call on Moscow to immediately end all attacks on hospitals in Ukraine.
80 member states voted to condemn the Russian attacks on Ukrainian medical facilities, nine were against, and 52 abstained. In addition to Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, Belarus, Cuba and Algeria also voted against the draft resolution. All 27 countries of the European Union, with the exception of Hungary, which abstained from voting, supported the decision.
The draft resolution highlights concerns over the current health situation in Ukraine and countries that have accepted Ukrainian refugees. In the draft, the World Health Organization also expressed concern over the risk of radiological, biological and chemical hazards and the deepening of the food security crisis.
Before the vote, Ukraine’s representative to the UN in Geneva, Yevgenia Filipenko, told those gathered at the World Health Organization meeting that “the Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered a serious health crisis, which is still ongoing due to Russia’s daily attacks on key health infrastructure“. She urged them to support the resolution.