Ukrainian special forces destroy key Russian observation tower

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The special unit of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine’s Defence Ministry, Kraken, has announced they successfully destroyed the Grenadier autonomous observation tower in Russia’s Bryansk Oblast.

Making the announcement on their Telegram channel, they wrote: “Using a kamikaze drone, the intelligence forces of the Kraken special unit destroyed the Grenadier autonomous observation tower in Bryansk Oblast.”

It comes as Russia has declared that saboteurs from Ukraine crossed into its territory and attacked border villages, a raid that fuelled fears of an escalation in the war as it has dragged into a second year.

A day after Thursday’s purported attack, details of what happened remain scarce and conflicting theories about possible perpetrators and their goals are still swirling.

Ukrainian officials have denied involvement and a presidential aide described it as a false-flag attack used by the Kremlin to justify the war in Ukraine.

An obscure group of Russian nationalists who described themselves as part of the Ukrainian military claimed responsibility for the attack, but their status and goals remain unclear.

Russian authorities reported the attack on the villages of Lyubechane and Suchany in the Bryansk region early Thursday, saying that several dozen saboteurs infiltrated from Ukraine, killed two civilians and planted explosives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin cancelled a scheduled trip to an event in southern Russia because of what he described as a “terrorist attack” deliberately targeting civilians.

Hours later, the Russian authorities said the intruders were pushed back into Ukraine and targeted by artillery fire.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described the Russian claims as “a classic deliberate provocation,” saying that Russia “wants to scare its people to justify the attack on another country and the growing poverty after the year of war.” But Podolyak also alleged that the attack could be the work of Russian guerrillas who had rebelled against the Kremlin.

“The partisan movement in the Russian Federation is getting stronger and more aggressive,” he said.

Ukraine’s military intelligence representative, Andrii Cherniak, similarly denied Ukraine’s involvement while also alleging that Russia is facing an uprising among its own disgruntled people.

“This was done by the Russians, Ukraine has nothing to do with it,” he told The Associated Press.

Cherniak noted that a group calling itself the Russian Volunteer Corps had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Russian Volunteer Corps released a video featuring its members standing outside a post office in one of the villages and urging the Russians to rebel against Putin.

The group has described itself as “a volunteer formation” of Ukraine’s armed forces. Little is known about the group, the number of its members and its ties, if any, with the Ukrainian military.

Russian bloggers identified some of the men who appeared in the video filmed in the village of Lyubechane as former members of Russia’s radical nationalist groups who had moved to Ukraine several years ago.

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Ukrainian New voice-NV news portal quoted Ilya Bogdanov, who identified himself as a member of the Corps, confirming that his colleagues who crossed into the Bryansk region were serving in the Ukrainian army.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said that the Corps’ claim could be a Ukrainian propaganda effort intended to embarrass Russia.

“It’s quite possible if our propagandists believe it would be more efficient to cast it as a heroic feat and pretend that there is an entire corps of them,” he told the AP.

Zhdanov noted that despite its flashy name, the group could include just a handful of Russians who signed a contract to fight alongside the Ukrainian military.

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