- Russian officials and the media reported that a Ukrainian sabotage group crossed the border into Bryansk, further claiming that it attacked civilians and took hostages
- The Russian Volunteer Corps, a pro-Ukrainian fighting group made up of ethnic Russians, confirmed that it was in Bryansk to call on Russians to fight against Putin, but denied attacking civilians
- Light clashes reported with Russian forces
- Putin called incident a ‘terror attack”
- Ukraine officials deny involvement
On Thursday, the governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, Alexander Bogomaz, reported on his Telegram that a a group of Ukrainian “saboteurs” had crossed the border and entered the village of Lyubechane. Bogomaz further claimed that the group “fired at a moving car,” killing one and wounding a child, adding that “the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are taking all the necessary measures to eliminate the sabotage group.”
The online Russian media outlets Baza and Mash then reported that about 40 to 50 saboteurs had entered the village of Sushany, claiming that several hostages were taken. Mash also stated the fighting was underway between the group and Russian forces. Russian state media began to echo reports from Baza and Mash, further claiming multiple casualties amongst civilians between both villages. Baza added that an “electric substation and a gas station were blown up in Sushany.”
Something rather bizarre is happening in Bryansk Oblast with Russian sources reporting a large group (±40) of Ukrainian military crossing the border. Minutes ago, a "Russian Volunteer Corps" telegram posted this video claiming to be behind the mission. pic.twitter.com/LL5lpD92VH
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) March 2, 2023
Within an hour after initial reports of the incident in Russian media, the pro-Ukrainian “Russian Volunteer Corps,” led by far-right figure Denis Kapustin, posted to its Telegram confirming that its forces are in Bryansk. In a post located in front of the Feldsher obstetrics office in Lyubechane, Kapustin says that they are not killing civilians and that the group crossed the border to have Russians “start a mutiny.”
The caption of the video on Telegram went on to say:
“Right now, on all Internet resources, you can see news about “Ukrainian DRGs” who killed children, took hostages, but, at the same time, hurriedly left, and so on.
All this is a lie of the Kremlin propagandists.
The Russian Volunteer Corps came to the Bryansk region to show their compatriots that there is hope, that free Russian people with weapons in their hands can fight the regime.
P.S. A little later we will share with you a refutation film about our adventures.”
— Noobieshunta (@Noobieshunta_) March 2, 2023
Meanwhile, other footage posted online shows members of the group in Sashay, confirming initial Russian reports that they were in both border villages.
Within a few hours of the initial reports, the Russian state media outlet TASS reported that “Ukrainian saboteurs, who earlier penetrated into the border region of the Bryansk region, do not show signs of activity, they could leave Russian territory, eyewitnesses of the events in the region told us.” Despite claims of fighting, there was no reports of casualties between Russian forces or the group.
— CrisP (@crispSV) March 2, 2023
In a video statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “terror attack” and further claiming that the group opened fire on a civilian car.
Ukrainian officials denied involving in the incident, with presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeting out “The story about [Ukrainian] sabotage group in RF is a classic deliberate provocation. RF wants to scare its people to justify the attack on another country & the growing poverty after the year of war,” adding that “The partisan movement in RF is getting stronger & more aggressive. Fear your partisans…”