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Putin Orders Manhunt for Russian ‘Traitors’ in Border Raids

Reuters/ Sputnik/Sergey Guneev
Reuters/ Sputnik/Sergey Guneev

Vladimir Putin is on a revenge streak.

On Tuesday, the Russian president told the board of his security service, the Federal Security Service (FSB), on Tuesday to hunt down and “punish” Russians who betrayed the country and took up the fight with the Ukrainians working to thwart Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“When I spoke about these traitors, I ask, since this has always been in our history, not to forget who they are, to identify them by name,” Putin said, according to the Kremlin. “We will punish them without a statute of limitations, wherever they are.”

He added that he wanted the FSB to “seriously” strengthen its anti-terrorism operations. “We are dealing with a strong and dangerous adversary.”

The clampdown comes as Russians have been fighting with Ukrainian forces against Russia in at least three militia groups known as the Russian Volunteer Corps, the Freedom of Russia Legion, and the Siberian Battalion. In recent days, the groups have taken the fight to Russian territory, attacking inside the Kursk and Belgorod regions. In the process, they have killed hundreds of Russians and distracted Putin’s forces, according to a Ukrainian intelligence assessment.

Putin’s Army Reeling After 600 Killed Inside Russia, Ukraine Claims

Moscow has accused the Ukrainian government of directing the cross-border raids, but Kyiv has denied responsibility. Kyiv has, however, admitted to working with the anti-Kremlin groups when they operate in Ukraine.

The militias’ pro-Ukraine attacks have stirred up chaos for Russians living in border regions. Russia has announced it will be evacuating thousands of children from the regions to protect them from attacks, while some regions have initiated entry restrictions given the security situation.

Putin has also suggested that Russia might establish a “buffer” zone between along its border with Ukraine in order to protect Russia from the incursions.

The Russian president asked the FSB to strengthen border security units with combat capabilities in light of the recent attacks as well, directing it to establish mobile units.

Ukraine has also been conducting attacks inside Russia, targeting energy infrastructure in an effort to throttle Russia’s funding for the war.

Attacks continued Wednesday, according to Moscow. Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed air defenses were activated to shoot down 13 rockets.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed Wednesday it was continuing “to take measures to prevent the penetration of sabotage and reconnaissance groups” in Belgorod.

The Freedom of Russia Legion revived its calls for Russia to evacuate civilians from Belgorod on Wednesday, accusing the Russian government of using the remaining civilians as human shields.

“The liberation movement calls on the leadership of the Belgorod region and in particular Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov to stop hiding behind the civilian population and immediately evacuate people from the entire territory of the Belgorod region,” the Freedom of Russia Legion said in a Telegram post. “Our strikes on military targets are intensifying, the shelling of the region has not actually stopped, and people continue to suffer and die. Civilian casualties are solely on the conscience of the administration, which is preventing the evacuation of people.”

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