On Sunday, the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Free Russia Legion, the two militias of Russian fighters opposed to the government of Vladimir Putin who have been conducting military operations in Russia’s Belgorod region, very close to the Ukrainian border, said they had taken some Russian soldiers hostage .
There are no certainties as to who the hostages are and how many there are: in a video on Telegram one of the two militias, the Free Russia Legion, showed two people – whose identity could not be verified – promising their release in exchange for an interview with the governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, in a joint statement with the Russian Volunteer Corps. In the video, the militias claimed that the two prisoners were Russian soldiers, and that they were wounded. Three hours later Gladkov replied with another video in which he confirmed the hostages were taken and agreed to meet the two militias only if the prisoners were still alive. It seems that the meeting did not take place: shortly after the two groups declared that Gladkov had not appeared and said they intended to deliver the two soldiers to Ukraine for a future prisoner exchange.
Attacks in Russia just over the border with Ukraine have increased in recent weeks, with reports of damage to buildings and the injury of some people, especially in the Belgorod region. The Russian Defense Ministry has argued on several occasions that the responsibility for the attacks lies with Ukraine, which has always denied having attacked Russia in its territory and instead claims that the attacks came from Russian militiamen opposed to Putin. Also in this case, as in other precedents, the Ukrainian authorities have not commented on the incident.