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Russians Or Ukrainians — Or Both? Attacks Inside Russia Are A Major Escalation

While military attention was focused on the harshly contested city of Bakhmut, fights were reported on the other side of the border in Russian territory. But it was Russian groups that claimed responsibility.

Photo of a destroyed building in Belgorod, Russia

Scenes of destruction in Russia's Belgorod border region

Vvyacheslav Gladkov via Telegram
Pierre Haski


Moscow is accusing Ukrainian commando units of crossing the border and attacking Russian targets, but the raid was claimed by two anti-Putin Russian organizations. They posted videos, impossible to verify, showing Russians in uniforms riding in captured armored vehicles, or of themselves bragging about having taken down a helicopter.

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It’s not the first time that such incursions have happened: In March, fighting had occurred in villages a few hundred meters away from the border. They were claimed by the same organizations. What is new is the announcement of the capture of a locality and the intention to create a controlled zone in Russia - an objective that still seems beyond their capacities.

These fighters belong to two organizations that are regularly in the news. The first one is the “Russian Volunteer Corps” and the other is the “Freedom of Russia Legion”. The first is reputed to be on the far-right, led by Dmitriy Nikitin, a former martial arts teacher. The second is without known affiliation. Both were once incorporated in the Ukrainian army, but now declare to be acting independently.

Photo of three members of the \u200b"Freedom of Russia Legion" with their faces blurred out

Members of the "Freedom of Russia Legion"

Facebook page

Conquering or creating a diversion?

Despite Kyiv’s denial, it seems impossible that these rather marginal groups were able to set up such an operation without the support and green light of the army or of Ukrainian secret services. In fact, Kyiv reproduces methods used by Russians since the beginning of the war in Donbass in 2014: so-called independent forces that are equipped and armed by Moscow.

Ukrainians have been hinting for weeks that they will launch a counter-offensive.

The real question is the goal of this operation. Is it really about conquering a “freed zone” in Russian territory, which would require significant support from Ukraine? Or is it simply to create a diversion?

Ukrainians have been hinting for weeks that they will launch a counter-offensive to try to break through the Russian defensive wall. This wall, covering hundreds of kilometers, has been considerably strengthened in recent months.

Russian wrath

Russia just claimed a military victory with the total capture of Bakhmut, after months of fighting and thousands of deaths. Ukraine says there are still pockets of resistance, but Putin needed a win: Bakhmut comes at just the right time.

By attacking Russian territory through rebels, Ukraine is mitigating the impact of the capture of Bakhmut. It forces Russia to deploy troops to protect the rear, when the clash could happen at the front.

Finally, it’s a rare circumstance in which Russian civilians are in turn subjected to the wrath of war, which Ukrainians have been experiencing unrelentingly for 15 months. The Kremlin’s revenge, as at every stage, is likely to be brutal. The escalation continues.

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How I Made Homeschooling Work For My Mexican Family

Educating children at home is rarely accepted in Mexico, but Global Press Journal reporter Aline Suárez del Real's family has committed to daily experiential learning.

How I Made Homeschooling Work For My Mexican Family

Cosme Damián Peña Suárez del Real and his grandmother, Beatriz Islas, make necklaces and bracelets at their home in Tecámac, Mexico.

Aline Suárez del Real

TECÁMAC, MEXICO — Fifteen years ago, before I became a mother, I first heard about someone who did not send her child to school and instead educated him herself at home. It seemed extreme. How could anyone deny their child the development that school provides and the companionship of other students? I wrote it off as absurd and thought nothing more of it.

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