Vladimir Putin’s generals face “an acute dilemma” over whether to boost military defences in Russia after fresh attacks by anti-regime forces or reinforce their frontlines in Ukraine, British defence chiefs said on Friday.
They have also deployed the “full range of military firepower” inside Russia to counter the attacks in the west of the country near the border with Ukraine, they added.
“In a complex battlefield situation, what appeared to be uncrewed aerial vehicles also struck Belgorod city (35km inside Russia - 22 miles), while the authorities evacuated civilians from the border town of Shebikino following Ukrainian shelling.”
The briefing added: “The Russia military and interior forces have likely seen quicker success in containing this raid than the previous one.
“However, according to the Russia MOD’s own press release, it has resorted to deploying the full range of military firepower on its own territory, including attack helicopters, and the TOS-1A heavy thermobaric rocket launcher.
“Russian commanders now face an acute dilemma of whether to strength defences in Russia’s border regions or reinforce their lines in occupied Ukraine.”
Two villages in Russia’s western Bryansk region have been shelled by Ukrainian forces, but no one was injured, regional governor Alexander Bogomaz said in a series of posts on the Telegram message system.
The reported attacks on Lomakovka and Novaya Pogoshch villages, located close to the border with Ukraine’s Chernihiv and Sumy regions, could not be independently verified.
Russian officials have reported intensified attacks from northern Ukraine and said that on Thursday Ukrainian troops attempted to cross the border into the Belgorod region, the first such incursion.
Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Friday at least one incident of shelling had been reported overnight in the Shebekino district, and over 2,500 people were being evacuated from the area.
Ukraine denies its military is involved in the incursions and says they are conducted by Russian volunteer fighters.
Ukrainian authorities on Friday lifted air raid alerts across most of the nation, and officials in the capital Kyiv said defences appeared to have shot down more than 30 missiles and drones fired by Russia.
Moscow has launched around 20 separate missile and drone strikes against Ukrainian cities since the start of May.
Russia denies targeting civilians or committing war crimes but its forces have devastated Ukrainian cities and repeatedly hit residential areas, killing thousands of people including hundreds of children.