Ukraine says Moscow claim of border incursion is a provocation

Russia says one person was killed in operation against what it describes as a terrorist attack

Russian units during exercises before the invasion of Ukraine in February, 22. EPA
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Russia claims to have fought off a "terrorist attack" in the southern Bryansk region bordering Ukraine, where the local governor said a Ukrainian sabotage group had killed one person and hostages had been taken.

Ukraine on Thursday accused Russia of staging a false provocation after the reports. The area has been subject to shelling and sporadic sabotage in recent weeks.

Russia's border regions have become increasingly volatile since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine a year ago in what it called a "special military operation".

"We are talking about a terrorist attack. Measures are now being taken to destroy these terrorists," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

He said law enforcement agencies would determine who was responsible, and President Vladimir Putin was being briefed on the situation by security chiefs.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter: "The story about [a] Ukrainian sabotage group in RF (Russian Federation) 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".

Russia's FSB security service told Russian news agencies on Thursday that its own forces and the army were trying to liquidate what it described as "an armed group of Ukrainian nationalists" who had crossed the border.

Bryansk Governor Alexander Bogomaz said the Ukrainians had shot and killed one person.

"Today, a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group penetrated the Klimovsky district in the village of Lubechanye," Mr Bogomaz said on his Telegram channel.

Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. EPA.

"Saboteurs fired on a moving car. As a result of the attack, one resident was killed and a 10-year-old child was wounded."

He said Ukrainian armed forces had carried out a drone attack and fired artillery at other areas near the border.

The involvement of the United States and Nato in the war in Ukraine risks bringing "catastrophic consequences", Russia said on Thursday in a speech boycotted by many western diplomats.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that "the most acute strategic threat is posed now by the US and Nato policy aimed at further fomenting the conflict in and around Ukraine".

"Their growing involvement in an armed confrontation is fraught with a direct military clash of nuclear powers with catastrophic consequences."

Mr Ryabkov spoke before a largely empty chamber, with many western diplomats opting to symbolically gather for a nearby photo opportunity in front of a mural painted in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag during his scheduled speaking time.

He was, however, spared the huge walkout that greeted his boss, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, when his video address played before the Conference on Disarmament a year ago.

A Polish diplomat, meanwhile, warned that it is only a matter of time before Russian President Vladimir Putin expands his war goals in Ukraine to include the conquest of further territory that was once part of the Soviet Union.

Adrian Kubicki, the Polish consul general in New York, said Moscow currently does not have the military capability to launch an attack against Poland or any other Nato country, but warned that Mr Putin has long-term imperialistic ambitions and is looking to chip away at neighbouring lands.

“It's a continuous process of Russia trying to invade some of the regions that they claim as theirs,” Mr Kubicki told The National.

“If we allow Russia to move forward, to make little steps forward, eventually they will knock [on] our doors.”

Updated: March 02, 2023, 12:57 PM