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  2. A cross-border incursion into Russian territory from Ukraine took place in the Bryansk region. Two civilians were killed

A cross-border incursion into Russian territory from Ukraine took place in the Bryansk region. Two civilians were killed

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On March 2, according to Russian authorities, a sabotage group from Ukraine entered the village of Lyubechane, killing a car driver and wounding a 10-year-old boy. Later, a second man was reported dead. Members of the Russian Volunteer Corps, fighting for Ukraine, claimed responsibility for the incursion. They said that they didn’t take hostages or shoot civilians. Ukraine denied any involvement in the incident. The event was reported by governor Alexander Bogomaz and the Telegram channel of the Russian Volunteer Corps.

Bryansk governor, Alexander Bogomaz, reported that a sabotage group from Ukraine entered the village of Lyubechane on the morning of March 2. The invaders fired at a car with civilians: the driver was killed, and a 10-year-old boy was taken to the hospital with injuries. Bogomaz later informed about a third victim, a 57-year-old man, who also died.

The Baza channel reported about 50 troopers who took a group of villagers hostage. According to the SHOT channel, one of them was a paramedic, who later escaped. The authorities have not confirmed this information. The FSB said that an operation of eliminating intruders from the Ukrainian side was conducted in the area. The Mash published a statement from the paramedic, who allegedly managed to escape from captivity. According to her, the troopers in balaclavas stopped cars, took people's phones, and eventually released the people at a bus stop. They also scattered "petal" landmines around the bus stop. There was an explosion after which the troopers retreated in the direction of the border with Ukraine.

Residents of the Bryansk region told the 7x7 media that due to poor cell phone service, they could not reach their relatives in Lyubechane. The security forces asked the villagers to stay at home and not to spread information about what was happening. However, they also seemed confused about the situation. The locals claim that they have not seen any intruders.

Residents of the village of Novy Ropsk, next to Liubechane, told the 7x7 media that everything was "quiet" in their area. Occasionally, they were without mobile reception; they also saw an ambulance and fire brigades drive by. The place where the car with children, mentioned by the governor, was attacked, is a 10-minute drive from the village. According to the people, they did not see any attackers. Nobody explained to them anything, which only "caused more panic."

No photos or videos of the alleged attack or people taken as hostages haven’t surfaced so far.

Later in the afternoon, members of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) posted a video with the medical station in a Bryansk village in the background. According to captain Denis Nikitin, they wanted to show to the people in Russia that "free Russians with arms in their hands can fight the regime" and "there is hope.” One of the troopers told the Important Stories media that 45 people took part in the "mission." They recorded how they ambushed two armored cars; however, they didn’t take hostages, and he didn't see any wounded children. According to him, one border guard was injured. The 7x7 media was unable to find other photos and videos of the incident apart from the video published by the RVC.

Denis Nikitin at the medical station in a Bryansk village. Screenshot from the telegram channel of the Russian Volunteer Corps. Source: t.me

At 2:20 p.m., TASS reported that "Ukrainian saboteurs show no signs of activity" in the Bryansk region, and most likely they all “have left.” The FSB issued a statement about "a large number of explosive devices of various types" found in the area. Settlements were promised to be cleared of mines.

President Vladimir Putin called the incident an "act of terrorism.” On March 3, he is to speak at a Security Council meeting. The Ukrainian authorities called the incident a "classic provocation."

The Russian Volunteer Corps is a unit of Russian emigrants who have been fighting on the side of Ukraine since 2014. Its commander is Denis Nikitin, who spoke in the video outside a medical station in Lyubechane. In an interview with Ukrainian TV, he said that he had been multiple times arrested in Russia and that members of his unit set fire to offices of the United Russia party. He also said publically that Russia could be freed if Ukraine defends its independence.

In July 2022, the Vice media called Nikitin a neo-Nazi, a troublemaker, and a proponent of the far-right ideology.

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