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ISW: Kremlin doesn't know how to respond to raids in Belgorod region

Jun 5, 2023

The operation of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and the Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR) in the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation shows that the Kremlin does not understand how to respond to the situation.

This is causing chaos in the country's information space, growing unrest and criticism of Moscow.

These are the conclusions reached by experts of the Institute for War Studies in their new report.


Contradictory Russian responses and reports of a pro-Ukrainian rebel operation in the Belgorod region continue to indicate that the Russian leadership has not yet decided how to respond to such limited cross-border raids.

Conflicting reports from official Russian sources about the situation in the Belgorod region and the apparent personal decision of the region's governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, to respond to the RDK and LSR suggest that the Russian Defense Ministry and he are not coordinating their responses to the raids.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War have previously noted that Russian officials have responded inappropriately to the raids in an attempt to calm growing anxiety in the country over the war against Ukraine, as well as to support ongoing information operations in an effort to present the invasion as existential for Russia.

"Russian responses have primarily centered on informational effects, and there is no indication that the Russian leadership has set a wider policy for preventing further limited raids into Russian border oblasts," the report says.

In addition, the raids and border shelling in the Belgorod region have increasingly become the subject of criticism of the Russian military leadership by milbloggers and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the report says.

Author – Anastasiya Glotova, 05/06/2023

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