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13 Mar, 2024 20:04

Ukrainian militants’ incursion claim debunked

A video purporting to show fighters in control of a Russian border village turned out to have been filmed behind their front line
Ukrainian militants’ incursion claim debunked

A video made by Ukrainian militants attached to the so-called Russian Freedom Legion purporting to show they had taken control of the Russian border village of Tetkino on Wednesday was quickly shown to have been filmed from Ukrainian territory. 

The short clip posted to the social media accounts of the Legion shows the armed group kneeling by a house they claimed was in Tetkino in Russia’s Kursk Region, which is right on the border between the two countries. The fighters explained that the road sign bearing the name of the village was farther along the street but suggested that it was too dangerous to venture forward to show it with combat still raging in the area.

The claim, however, promptly fell flat as online viewers – both Russian and Ukrainian – pointed out that the distinctive house with blue brick ornamentation and corresponding decor featured in the video is actually located in the nearby Ukrainian village of Ryzhevka, some 300 meters away from Tetkino. The same house had been repeatedly photographed with Russian troops distributing humanitarian aid nearby when the area was briefly controlled by Moscow early in the conflict. 

The failed propaganda video comes amid apparent damage control efforts to portray the attacks on the Russian border regions launched by Ukrainian forces over the past few days as successful. While the village of Tetkino has been subjected to repeated artillery shelling, with a local store and other buildings sustaining damage, the attacks were repelled by the Russian border guard and military units, according to the governor of Kursk Region, Roman Starovoyt. 

The Russian Freedom Legion is a Ukrainian paramilitary unit created early in the conflict and attached to the country’s military intelligence agency, the GUR. The unit portrays itself as a collaborator force composed of Russian defectors. The Legion, together with the so-called Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), which includes many open neo-Nazis, as well as the Siberian Battalion, a smaller unit allegedly composed of indigenous Siberians, has repeatedly attempted to infiltrate Russian border regions, particularly Belgorod and Kursk. The Legion and RDK were outlawed and designated as terrorist entities in Russia last year.