A group of anti-Putin Russian nationals, who are aligned with the Ukrainian army, has claimed responsibility for a recent attack in Russia's southwest region of Belgorod. Moscow said that it was fighting there a group of saboteurs.
According to Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor, there were no casualties. The shelling damaged an administration building, several residential structures, and a Kindergarten in the area.
In a Telegram message, groups calling themselves "Freedom of Russia Legion", "Russian Volunteer Corps", and "Russian Volunteer Corps", claimed to have "liberated" an area in the Belgorod Region, which borders Ukraine.
He said that the units were "parts of defense and security forces in Ukraine" but independent from Kyiv elsewhere: "In Russia, they are acting independently."
"This is a major incident, and it's clearly intended to cause consternation at the local level, if not the Kremlin," Kiley said on Connect the World with CNN's Lynda Kinkade.
"The situation is extremely tense."Gladkov, in a live-streamed Monday address, said that a sabotage group and reconnaissance team as well as the Ministry of Defense and law enforcement agencies had entered the territory for combat missions to protect the country.
He said that "most" of the population had left the territory with their own vehicles, and the local government was providing assistance to those who did not have the means to leave.
Gladkov confirmed that air defenses had destroyed an unmanned aerial device (UAV) in this region. He added that there were no casualties and the Russian authorities are investigating any possible damage on the ground.
Aleksey Baranovsky is a representative of the Russian Armed Opposition Political Centre, the political wing of the Freedom of Russia Legion. He told CNN that the operation began Sunday night and that the fighting was still "ongoing."
In a separate incident, Freedom of Russia Legion posted on Telegram a video that appeared to show the so-called blue and white flag of free Russia flying above the Moscow State University.
Caesar is a group member. He is a father, a former teacher, and has a Kyiv-based wife. He told CNN in 2013 that he dedicated his life to overthrowing Russian President Vladimir Putin, marching to Red Square and the Kremlin.
He is a devout Orthodox Christian and nostalgic for the Tsarist period that preceded the Soviet Union. His unit is equipped with modern armored cars, gunsights, and the latest automatic weaponry.
It is also part of ongoing psychological operations to undermine support for war in Russia, and the fighting spirit among Russian soldiers.
Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, said that "Russian forces work to push the Ukrainian sabotage group and reconnaissance group off the territory of Russian Federation and destroy them."He told reporters that there were enough forces and resources.