The Pro-Kiev Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Corps invited the Belgorod governor to meet the captured Russian soldiers and take them back.
Fighting continues in southern Russia after armed groups launched more attacks across the border from Ukraine and Moscow said it targeted “terrorists” with artillery fire.
Clashes have broken out again on his side of the border, the governor of the besieged Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on Sunday, acknowledging for the first time that pro-Ukrainian forces had taken Russian prisoners of war during the incursions.
He said he was willing to hold talks to get “our men” back and told the armed groups he would meet with them in exchange.
“A sabotage group has come. There is a fight [the] Novaya Tavolganka [border village]Gladkov said. “I hope they are all destroyed.”
The Russian Pro-Kiev Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Corps invited the Belgorod governor to meet with the captured soldiers and take them back.
“The only thing that prevents me from negotiating with them is our comrades who are in their hands, they may already be dead,” Gladkov said.
Ukraine has been massively bombing Russian settlements on the border recently, forcing thousands to flee to the regional center of Belgorod.
The Russian military later claimed to have repelled a “sabotage group of Ukrainian terrorists” seeking to cross the border near the settlement.
The enemy was hit by artillery fire. It added in a statement that the enemy dispersed and retreated.
Gladkov earlier asked residents of the Chebykino border area to leave their homes because of the shelling.
Sent to slaughter
The fighting around Novaya Tavolganka follows last month’s dramatic armed incursion from Ukraine that forced the Russian military to use artillery and airstrikes on home soil. Anti-Kremlin nationalists claimed responsibility for the border breach.
Earlier, the armed groups published a video addressing the governor. It claimed to show “prisoners” called by their captors as “simple soldiers sent by your command to this war”.
The one-minute, 26-second clip showed what appeared to be about a dozen Russian soldiers being held captive, with two lying on hospital beds. A man who identified himself as the commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps said he would surrender the soldiers in exchange for a meeting with Governor Gladkov.
He described the captives as “ordinary soldiers sent to massacre by you and your political leadership,” according to a statement released with the video.
Hours later, Gladkov appeared in a video message in which he agreed to meet the group if the soldiers were still alive.
Most likely, they killed them, although it is difficult to say. But if they are alive, then from 5 to 6 o’clock in the evening – the Shchebekino checkpoint. “I guarantee safety,” said Gladkov.
The fighter said in the video that Gladkov did not appear at the appointed meeting place. We have already decided the fate of these guys. “They will be taken to the Ukrainian side for an exchange,” he said.
Ukrainian officials have predicted the rise of what they call forces opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
These Russian men took up arms against their will. Another member of the Corps, who did not identify himself, said in the video: “Soon they will understand how vile and unfair the war that Putin unleashed.”
The future of Russia
Ukraine has consistently denied responsibility for the attacks on Russian soil, but presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said on Sunday that the situation in the border regions “should be seen as Russia’s future”.
Gladkov said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had continued to bomb his area overnight after killing two people the night before and evacuating hundreds of children far from the border.
The attacks on the Belgorod region come as Kiev says it is preparing a major counterattack against Russian forces.
In a video released on Sunday, the Ukrainian military apparently called on soldiers to keep quiet about the plans and said there would be no announcement of the start of the long-awaited counter-offensive.
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