Russian authorities and media report Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group allegedly infiltrating into Russia and taking hostages
On the morning of 2 March, Governor of Russian Bryansk Oblast bordering Ukraine reported that, allegedly, a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group (SRG) infiltrated into the oblast, took civilians hostage and fired at a car. This information was quickly brought to the attention of propaganda media, but they are publishing very contradictory data.
Source: Alexander Bogomaz, Governor of Russian Bryansk Oblast, on Telegram; Russian Kremlin-aligned news outlets RIA Novosti, TASS, RBK; Russian local Telegram channels
Quote from Alexander Bogomaz: "Today, a Ukrainian SRG infiltrated into the territory of Klimovsky district to the village of Lyubechany. Saboteurs fired at a moving car. As a result of the shooting, one person was killed and a 10-year-old child was injured. The child was taken to the hospital and is being provided with all the necessary assistance."
Details: The Russian governor said that the Russian military was allegedly taking "all necessary measures to eliminate the sabotage group".
Later, he said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces also allegedly attacked Klymov district of the oblast with a drone, which allegedly set a residential building in the village of Sushany on fire.
The information about the alleged seizure of hostages by Ukrainian saboteurs in the border villages of Bryansk Oblast was brought to the attention of Russian propagandists.
Their reports began to quickly become filled with contradictory details.
In particular, the Kremlin-aligned news outlet TASS, citing security forces, reported that the SRG had allegedly infiltrated two villages in Bryansk Oblast, that a military clash between the Russian National Guard and Ukrainian saboteurs was allegedly taking place there, that there were allegedly killed and wounded among the residents, and that at least six people had been taken hostage.
The propagandists also reported that a child was allegedly killed by saboteurs' shooting of a car. But later they rewrote this information, saying that "the boy is alive, he was hospitalised".
In addition, Russian Telegram channels allegedly reported that Ukrainian saboteurs had shot a school bus. They said a child was injured, but it was not a boy, but a girl. At first, they wrote that the girl was wounded and died in the hospital, and then they rewrote that she was allegedly wounded in the back during the bus shooting, but survived.
But later, the authorities of Bryansk Oblast stated that there was no shooting of a bus, as children were studying remotely and no school buses were running.
Another Russian government controlled outlet, RIA Novosti, cited emergency services as saying that "several people were allegedly taken hostage in a store in the village of Lyubechany in Bryansk Oblast".
The Russian Telegram channel Readovka, citing an alleged resident of Sushan, wrote that seven Ukrainian saboteurs had allegedly entered the village, they were carrying "assault rifles, grenade launchers and leaflets". This channel reported that the SRG allegedly immediately "occupied several residential buildings" with residents inside, but later it was reported that hostages were allegedly being held in the House of Culture.
The channel wrote that it was allegedly "known for sure that a family with two children was taken hostage".
And the Telegram channel Baza wrote that there are "about 50 saboteurs" in Sushany. According to the channel, this group of armed men allegedly wore yellow armbands [signs of Ukraine’s Armed Forces – ed.], and they allegedly held at least a man, a woman, and two children hostage.
Some propagandists wrote that allegedly 80 Ukrainian saboteurs managed to cross the border.
At the same time, a spokeswoman for the governor of Bryansk Oblast told Zvezda (Star) TV channel that there were allegedly saboteurs in Sushany, but said there was no information about hostages.
The Russian state-owned news outlet RBK also cited the head of the Novoropsk village administration, which includes the village of Sushany, as saying that he had not heard of any hostages either.
Quote from a Russian official: "No one told us that there are hostages. I am 18 kilometres from the village of Sushany, and there are problems with communication. Border guards and the military are working [on the scene – ed.]."
The Russian media also note that "there is no visual evidence that the Ukrainian SRG is operating in Bryansk Oblast".
Ukrainska Pravda is trying to get comments from the Ukrainian military.
At the same time, the Russian Volunteer Corps Telegram channel posted a video showing Russian soldiers entering Bryansk Oblast to show Russians that they are "not slaves".
Quote from Russian Volunteer Corps: "...Right now on all Internet resources you can see news about ‘Ukrainian SRGs’ that killed children, took hostages, but at the same time left in a hurry, and so on. All of this is a lie by Kremlin propagandists.
The Russian Volunteer Corps came to Bryansk Oblast to show their compatriots that there is hope, that free Russian people with arms in their hands can fight the regime."
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— ✌️ (@ukrpravda_news) March 2, 2023
The people shown on the video promised to post a "refutation film" about their "adventures" later.
On 23 February, Operational Command Pivnich (North) reported that the occupiers were preparing possible provocations to accuse Ukrainian defenders of violating Russia's territorial integrity.
In particular, at that time, intelligence recorded the movement of columns of military equipment without insignia and manpower wearing pixel-like uniforms of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near the border with Chernihiv Oblast.
The Operational Command Pivnich emphasised that "the Armed Forces on the Sivershchyna front are keeping the situation under control and, unlike the enemy forces, have never resorted to provocations and do not intend to do so".
Quote from Operational Command Pivnich: "Every soldier adheres to the generally accepted rules of warfare, not encroaching on other people's territories, but exclusively defending their native land from the brazen and insidious enemy."
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