Were liberating Russia Putin on brink as Legion vows to storm Moscow

Ukraine: Smoke rises from Russian border post in Kozinka

Daring attacks in the Belgorod region have shown the Russian resistance movement is real and that Vladimir Putin is no longer in control of the security situation inside his own country, the political representative for the Freedom of Russia Legion has told Express.co.uk. He added that the incursions would have a “devastating” psychological impact on both Kremlin elites and ordinary Russians, increasing their sense of “vulnerability” and undermining their support for their President. Early on Monday, the Kremlin was rocked after units from the Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps staged a raid over the border and took control of the village of Kozinka and then advanced towards the town of Graivoron.

There were reports of ongoing gun fights in and around the town, as the Russian army scrambled to send reinforcements to the area – with the 74th military brigade said to be on its way.

Members of the anti-Putin militia claimed they were trying to secure a demilitarised zone on the border, to prevent Russian shelling and rocket attacks on Ukrainian territory.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian MP and the political representative for the Legion told the Express that the attacks had sown panic among both the civilian and military administrations in Russia.

While acknowledging it would be “pretty difficult” to hold the territory seized in the raids, the mission had already achieved one of its key aims – which was to show Russians that the Kremlin could not keep them safe.

“The message is not for Putin, the message is for Russian elites and ordinary people,” he said.

“They (the Kremlin) are lying to you, they are not in control of the situation and also a very important thing – [it shows] that the Russian resistance exists, because they are actually trying to downplay this.

“The Russian official propaganda is in a state of shock.”

Mr Ponomarev, who helped set up the Congress of People’s Deputies (CPD), a forum of anti-Putin politicians, said border attacks would continue and grow in scale.

He said: “For the first time the white, blue and white flag is actually flying above Russian territory.

“That’s very important. It’s not Ukrainians who are liberating Russia, but Russians.

“Russians are going home to liberate their country from Putin’s tyranny. The final destination is Moscow, the Kremlin.”

The flag has been adopted by the CPD and the Legion as the national symbol for a new and democratic Russia, once the Putin regime has been overthrown.

In a social media post, the Freedom of Russia Legion urged ordinary Russians to rise up against Putin and his regime.

“Residents of Russia! We are Russians just like you,” they wrote on their Telegram channel.

“We are distinguished only by the fact that we no longer wanted to justify the actions of criminals in power and took up arms to defend our and your freedom.

“But today is the time for everyone to take responsibility for their future.

“It’s time for the Kremlin’s dictatorship to end: The Legion is coming home.”

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The governor of the Belgorod region claimed during a live social media broadcast that eight Russians had been injured as of Monday evening. However, there were no reported fatalities.

Vyacheslav Gladkov also announced he was introducing emergency counter-terrorism measures, in an attempt to reassure civilians in the region.

“In order to ensure the safety of citizens in the Belgorod region, the legal regime of the counter-terrorist operation has been introduced today, which establishes special measures and temporary restrictions,” he said.

“Starting with the verification of documents proving their identity and ending with the suspension of the activities of hazardous industries and organisations that use explosive, radioactive, chemically and biologically hazardous substances.”

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