Russia accuses Ukraine of cross-border incursion
Moscow on Thursday claimed that Ukrainians crossed into Russia and opened fire on civilians, an allegation denied by Kyiv as a "deliberate provocation."
Russia says its regions bordering Ukraine are routinely shelled by Ukrainian forces, but the alleged incursion, if confirmed, would be a rare instance of fighting inside its territory.
The allegations came as the conflict spilled into the G20 meeting of foreign ministers in New Delhi, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying he had urged his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to end the campaign in Ukraine.
Shortly after Russia reported the alleged incursion, President Vladimir Putin said the attackers were "neo-Nazis and terrorists... who today committed another terrorist attack, penetrated the border area and opened fire on civilians".
However, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak quickly dismissed Moscow's claims.
"The story about (a) sabotage group in Russia is a classic deliberate provocation," he said. "Russia wants to scare its people to justify the attack on another country and the growing poverty after the year of war."
AFP could not independently verify the reports.
The FSB security service said that the incident happened in the Klimovsky district of the Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine, and that a "large number of explosives" had been found.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there had been "an attack by Ukrainian fighters".
- 'Sabotage group' -
Earlier in the day, Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz said "a reconnaissance and sabotage group" had crossed the border near a village called Lyubechane.
Bogomaz said the group had opened fire on a moving car and that one person was killed and a 10-year-old wounded.
"The child has been taken to the hospital, he is receiving all the necessary assistance," Bogomaz said on Telegram.
Russian news agencies, citing sources in law enforcement and the emergency services, said members of the group may have taken hostages.
However, a different account was put forward in two videos on social media that showed four men in military uniform claiming to be from a Russian volunteer group in the Ukrainian army.
The men said they were in Russia and made statements against the Russian government, denying reports that they had taken hostages or killed anyone.
- 'Evil will not reign' -
Bogomaz also said that a Ukrainian drone had attacked the village of Sushany, leaving a residential home in flames, and that mortar fire had damaged two homes in Lomakovka, also in the region of Bryansk.
Roman Starovoyt, the governor of another Russian border region, said Ukrainian shelling on the village of Tetkino had left one dead and one injured.
He said the shelling damaged three houses and cut power in the village.
In Ukraine, officials said a Russian strike on an apartment block in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia had killed at least three people.
"The terrorist state wants to turn every day for our people into a day of terror," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
"But evil will not reign in our land. We will drive all the occupiers out and they will definitely be held accountable for everything," Zelensky added.
- G20 'farce' -
Ukraine tensions disrupted the G20 meeting in India, with Lavrov telling the assembled foreign ministers that Western representatives had derailed the meeting, calling it a "farce".
While his US counterpart Blinken said: "I told the foreign minister (Lavrov) what I and so many others said last week at the United Nations and what so many G20 foreign ministers said today -- end this war of aggression, engage in meaningful diplomacy..."
Also on the diplomatic front, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany and its allies were in talks with Kyiv over future security guarantees in preparation for a sustainable peace for Ukraine.
"We are speaking with Kyiv and other partners over future security guarantees for Ukraine," Scholz said in a speech to the German parliament.
"Such security guarantees however come with the presumption that Ukraine successfully defends itself in this war," said Scholz, who will travel to the United States for talks with President Joe Biden Friday.