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The anti-Putin Freedom of Russia Legion says it has 'ambitious plans' for more cross-border raids into Russia, report says

Fighters of the Russian Volunteer Corps and allied group, the Freedom of Russia Legion, pose with a seized armored personnel carrier from their May 2023 raid into southern Russia.
Fighters of the Russian Volunteer Corps and allied group, the Freedom of Russia Legion, pose with a seized armored personnel carrier from their May 2023 raid into southern Russia.Sergey Bobok/Getty Images
  • The Freedom of Russia Legion comprises defectors from the Russian army and other volunteers.

  • The anti-Putin group launched two cross-border raids into the Belgorod region in May and June.

  • Its commander told The Observer it's planning more attacks, bolstered by the dissolution of Wagner.

A paramilitary group of Russian citizens who oppose Vladimir Putin is planning more attacks into Russia, its commander told The Observer.

"There will be a further surprise in the next month or so," the Freedom of Russia Legion's spokesperson and commander, Caesar, told the newspaper. "It will be our third operation. After that, there will be a fourth and fifth."

"We have ambitious plans," he added. "We want to free all our territory."

The Freedom of Russia Legion is based in Ukraine and comprises a few hundred soldiers, who are defectors from the Russian army and other volunteers fighting against their homeland.

Reuters reports that the group says it operates under Ukrainian command, although Ukraine has denied a connection and says the Legion operates independently, per The Guardian.

Caesar — a former member of the ultranationalist Russian Imperial Movement — told The Observer that Ukraine and Russia's future is "a common struggle, a common tragedy."

The Legion's first cross-border raid took place in May, as the rebels said they took control of villages in the Belgorod region. In early June, they again crossed into the Belgorod region with armored vehicles and shelled the town of Shebekino.

Russia said more than 70 militants were killed during the fighting in May, per Al Jazeera. Although Caesar told The Observer, only two of his group's soldiers died and that the dead bodies had been dressed in Ukrainian uniforms. "It was all a dumb lie," he added.

And now the commander is more confident of success following the dissolution of the Wagner Group. The private military company took part in some of the conflict's fiercest battles until its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin launched a rebellion and marched toward Moscow on June 23,

"Their exit depresses the morale of the Russian army," Caesar told The Observer. "I'm certain 100% Ukraine's counter-offensive will succeed."

Read the original article on Business Insider