KYIV, May 22 (AP) — Three people were wounded in a small town Monday by Ukrainian military saboteurs who launched an attack across the border, Russian officials said.
Kiev officials have denied any links to the group and blamed the fighting on disaffected Russians against the Kremlin.
Neither version of events could be independently verified in a region that has experienced the sporadic spread of the war in Ukraine for nearly 15 months.
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, said a sabotage group of the Ukrainian armed forces had entered the town of Graveron, about five kilometers (three miles) from the border.
The town has also come under Ukrainian artillery fire, he said.
Three people were wounded by shrapnel in the attack, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. Three houses and an administrative building were damaged, he said.
In the nearby village of Zamostye, a shell hit a kindergarten and started a fire. One woman suffered injuries to her hand, Gladkov said.
He also reported that Russian air defenses shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle in the Belgorod region.
Gladkov said the anti-terror operation was ongoing and that authorities were imposing special controls, including checking personal documents and stopping the work of companies that used “explosive, radioactive, chemical and biological hazards.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had been informed of the alleged saboteur intrusion.
Efforts are underway to “drive them out of Russian territory and liquidate them,” he said.
Peskov described the move as an attempt by Ukraine to divert attention from the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Moscow claims has taken after months of fighting but which Kiev says is still fighting.
But Ukrainian military intelligence officials did not confirm that Kiev had deployed saboteurs.
Instead, they claim that Russian citizens seeking regime change in Moscow were behind the Graivoron invasion.
Ukrainian intelligence representative Andrii Cherniak said Russian citizens belonging to shadowy groups calling themselves the Russian Volunteer Legion and the “Russian Free Corps” were behind the attack.
Mikhailo Podolak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Twitter that Ukraine had “nothing to do with this matter.”
He suggested an “armed guerrilla movement” was behind the attack.
The Russian Volunteer Army claimed in a Telegram post that they had crossed the border into Russia again after claiming to have crossed in early March.
The Russian Volunteer Army describes itself as “a formation of volunteers fighting on the Ukrainian side”. Little is known about the group, nor is it clear whether it has any links to the Ukrainian military. The same goes for the “Russian Freedom” Corps.
The RVC was formed last August and is reportedly composed mostly of anti-Putin far-right Russian extremists with ties to Ukrainian far-right groups.
Ukraine’s Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, was running on emergency diesel generators for several hours on Monday after losing external power for the seventh time since Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said earlier on Monday.
“The nuclear security situation at the plant is extremely fragile,” IAEA head Rafael Grossi said in a tweet.
Hours later, state energy company Ukrenergo said on Telegram that it had restored the power lines supplying the plant.
But for Grossi, it was another reminder of shelling near the Russian-occupied factory.
“We must now agree to protect (the) factory; this cannot continue,” Grossi said in his latest call to save the region from fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
IAEA staff are deployed at a factory occupied by Russian troops.
The plant’s six nuclear reactors, protected by reinforced shelters capable of withstanding a misfired shell or rocket, have been shut down.
But interruptions to the power supply could disable the cooling system, which is critical to the safety of the reactor, even when the reactor is shut down.
The emergency diesel generators that officials say can keep the plant running for 10 days may not be reliable.
Grossi said it was the seventh time the plant had lost external power since a full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022.
The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant is one of the 10 largest nuclear power plants in the world.
At least three Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 16 others wounded in Russian attacks in the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian president’s office said Monday morning.
The Ukrainian Air Force reported that four of 16 Russian missiles fired at Ukrainian targets were shot down, as were all 20 drones.
Eight people were wounded in Russian attacks on military targets and public infrastructure in Dnipro, Ukraine’s fourth-largest city in the center of the country, officials said.
According to Governor Serhii Lysak, the Dnipro fire department was affected and 12 houses, shops and a kindergarten were damaged. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)