Russian nationalists invaded the Belgorod region on Monday morning to wage their own struggle against President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Loud “Mirror’ the groups concentrated on the Grayvoron border crossing and then advanced further into Russia. At times they took control of several smaller villages and the city of Grajworon, reports the “ZDF”. The unexpected invasion apparently took the Russian border guards by surprise.
The nationalists’ intention is clear: they want to bring back to Russia the war that Putin brought to Ukraine. Two groups are said to have been involved in the advance: the “Free Russia” Legion and the “Russian Volunteer Corps”.
The best-known comrade-in-arms is probably Denis Kapustin, who also calls himself Denis Nikitin – a prominent figure in the European far-right scene.
Well-known personality in the German right-wing extremist scene
Kapustin, who speaks fluent Russian, English and German, claims the raid in the Belgorod region was his idea. The weakest point on the Russian-Ukrainian border was identified in advance.
“Then it wasn’t difficult to advance further. The Russian Federation is not prepared to repel attacks. It is only prepared to attack foreign territories,” Kapustin told Der Spiegel.
He is a well-known personality not only in the Russian, but also in the German right-wing extremist scene. Kapustin has lived in both Russia and Ukraine.
According to research by “Spiegel” and “ntv”, he is a Russian citizen who came to Germany in 2001 as a quota refugee and settled in Cologne. A few years later, Kapustin founded the right-wing extremist fashion label “White Rex”, took part in right-wing extremist concerts and organized martial arts events.
As the “Spiegel” found out, Kapustin has not been allowed to enter Germany since 2019 because he poses a “serious threat to public security and order”. He is said to have been in Ukraine for several years.
Loud “nvThere are unconfirmed reports that Kapustin is under investigation in Russia, and he is said to be in trouble with the law in Ukraine.
to overthrow the Putin regime by force of arms
Kapustin was recently spotted in the Sumy region of Ukraine posing with other men in front of a Russian infantry fighting vehicle. The tank used to belong to the border troops of the Russian FSB and was presented as a trophy after the attack on the border crossing at Grayvoron.
The action in Belgorod was apparently an action approved by Ukraine, according to the “ZDF“. The broadcaster comes to this conclusion because the two Russian units involved are under Ukrainian command.
The “Legion of Freedom of Russia” therefore belongs to the “International Legion of the Territorial Defense Command of Ukraine”, whose members are officially considered contract soldiers. The “Russian Volunteer Corps”, in turn, is said to be subordinate to the 108th Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Ukraine distances itself from the attacks
In any case, the Ukrainian government is distancing itself from what happened in Belgorod. Officials say the attack was a Russian operation against Putin’s regime.
“Ukraine is watching with interest the events in Russia’s Belgorod region and is studying the situation, but it has nothing to do with it,” wrote Mikhalyo Podoliak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on Twitter.
However, there are also indications of indirect support from the Ukrainian army, for example through appropriate equipment. It is unclear whether the Belgorod-22 military installation, which houses a tactical nuclear weapons storage facility, was affected by the attack.
How permeable are Russia’s borders?
Ukrainian military intelligence agency HUR claimed that the Belgorod-22 arms depot was evacuated. However, these statements have not yet been independently verified.
What is clear is that the incident raises the question of the permeability of Russia’s borders. Despite claims that the area was fortified, the attackers apparently had no trouble entering Russian territory. The failure of the Russian army has drawn mockery and criticism on social media.
Russia wants to downplay what happened. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Ukraine wanted to distract from the loss of Bakhmut with the advance in Belogrod. A city that the Russians took a few days ago after much back and forth.