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Pro-Kyiv Militias Urge Russians in Border Regions to Evacuate

Two volunteer fighters from the Freedom of Russia Legion. Freedom of Russia Legion / Telegram

Anti-Kremlin militia groups fighting on the side of Ukraine have urged civilians in western Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk regions to evacuate, saying they were preparing to launch attacks on Russian “military positions” across the two regions.

“Putin’s assassins are carrying out massive strikes on peaceful Ukrainian cities, putting their positions between your homes, your children's schools and government institutions,” read a joint statement published by the Freedom of Russia Legion, Russian Volunteer Corps and Siberian Battalion on Wednesday. 

The three militias, which are made up of Russian citizens fighting on behalf of Kyiv, called for an end to attacks on Ukraine from Russian territory. 

“In this regard, we are forced to fire upon military positions located in the cities of Belgorod and Kursk,” the joint statement continued.

“We urge the local authorities to save human lives and begin evacuating the cities of the Kursk region and Belgorod region.”

An hour before the joint statement was published, Kursk region Governor Roman Starovit announced an air raid alert for that region and called on civilians to seek shelter.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed it had repelled a series of brazen cross-border raids by the pro-Ukrainian militias, who burst into its territory and claimed to seize control of the Kursk region village of Tyotkino. 

The militia groups shared videos on the Telegram messaging app that appeared to show their fighters, along with armored vehicles, engaging in combat. It was unclear where and when exactly the videos were shot.

In the neighboring Belgorod region, a member of the regional territorial defense force was killed, while 10 civilians were wounded during the incursion, according to regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence has said the volunteer fighters were not acting under orders from Kyiv.

Early Wednesday, the Freedom of Russia Legion posted a video to Telegram of what it said were its fighters still positioned in the village of Tyotkino, but it was not immediately possible to verify those claims.

Another video shared later the same day showed what appeared to be militia fighters exchanging gunfire with Russian forces.

A description accompanying the video read: “As far as the enemy’s losses are concerned... visually, we have battered them.”

The timing and location of that video could not be verified.

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