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Russia claims it killed 234 fighters in attempted border incursion

Hundreds of armed Russians stormed the country’s border from Ukraine in an attempted incursion against the Russian government, which the country’s military stopped, the Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry said its military killed 234 fighters who claimed to be anti-Kremlin Russian citizens. The group said it is independent of the Ukrainian military and government, though Moscow blamed Kyiv for the attack.

The Russian military “thwarted an attempt by the Kyiv regime to make a breakthrough into the border territory of the Russian Federation in the Belgorod and Kursk regions,” the ministry said in a Telegram statement Tuesday.

“The terrorist formations, having suffered significant losses, were driven back,” the post continued, noting the fighters were armed with tanks and armored vehicles. “There were no violations of the state border.”

The ministry claimed the Russian military destroyed seven tanks and three American-built Bradley fighting vehicles.

The attack comes just days before Russian elections and as Ukraine continues to push Western allies for military aid, describing a dire situation on its front lines.

Freedom of Russia Legion spokesperson Alexei Baranovsky told Reuters that Tuesday’s attack is just the beginning.

“This is only the first day (of the operation). But the elections, as we know, are only at the end of the week… All the most interesting things are yet to come,” he said.

The operation is intended to distract Russian military resources and aid the Ukrainian military, Baranovsky said.

“We are distracting the reserves, the attention of the Russian army. They are forced to transfer reserves…this is also our contribution to the defence of Ukraine,” he said.

A similar group of Russian nationals launched another cross-border attack last May, briefly taking over a Belgorod border crossing.

The Biden administration announced a $300 million military aid package for Ukraine on Tuesday, the first since December, as efforts to secure additional funding in Congress remain at a standstill.

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