Russian rebels have a plan to topple Putin

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The pro-Ukraine Russian rebel formations fighting their way across the shared border between the two warring nations want the ongoing operation to spark an uprising against President Vladimir Putin, one volunteer has said.
The Freedom of Russia Legion, Siberian Battalion and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK)—all volunteer paramilitary groups operating under the umbrella of the Ukrainian military—on Tuesday launched a two-pronged incursion into Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk regions.
Amid fierce fighting, Alexei Baranovsky—a volunteer of the Freedom of Russia Legion who goes by the call sign “Lutik”—told Newsweek that the rebel fighters intend to eventually “march on Moscow.”
The goal, he said, is “the ensuing liberation of Russia from Putin.
We may not be able to pull it off now, but that is our overarching mission.”
The latest cross-border assaults come as Putin prepares for this weekend’s presidential election, a carefully managed contest he is sure to win.
The vote will also be held in the areas of Ukraine occupied by Moscow’s forces in their full-scale invasion since February 2022.
Baranovsky said the rebel operation has been timed intentionally.
This photo, taken from the Freedom of Russia Legion’s Telegram channel, shows rebel fighters holding the unit’s flag at an undisclosed location in Russia’s border region with Ukraine on March 13, 2024.
This photo, taken from the Freedom of Russia Legion’s Telegram channel, shows rebel fighters holding the unit’s flag at an undisclosed location in Russia’s border region with Ukraine on March 13, 2024.
Freedom of Russia Legion”We may not be able to stop the federal election, but we can disrupt the regional votes, so we are doing what we can by bringing this ‘air of freedom’ to at least some parts of the country,” he explained, describing the coming poll as “Putin’s latest push to usurp power.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry reported attacks by “Ukrainian terrorist groups” at three locations along the border, and said all assaults were repelled.
Ballots and BulletsPutin’s re-coronation will come as no surprise, but it will represent another blow to Russia’s embattled opposition movement.
The Kremlin has used its war on Ukraine to further choke the Russian public and civil society of any hint of dissent.
The death of unofficial opposition leader Alexei Navalny in an Arctic penal colony in February served as a grim reminder of the fate awaiting Russians bold enough to stand against Putin’s rule.
Zhanna Nemtsova—the daughter of murdered anti-Putin politician Boris Nemtsov—told Newsweek soon after Navalny’s death was announced that Russian pro-democracy activists are “a species close to extinction.”
Baranovsky said the rebel formations want to revitalize the cowed domestic opposition.
“As citizens of Russia, we decided that we also want to take part in this election—and this is our way of getting our voices heard,” he said.
“We are voting for an armed resistance to the Putin regime, for an uprising, a revolution.”
“We lead the anti-opposition by example, showing that they are not alone, showing them that there are people ready to fight, not just shining flashlights into the sky [a reference to the “flashlight flashmob” protests of opposition groups] but through bearing arms, with guns, grenades and armored vehicles, of which we have plenty.
And we call on all of them to join us in this fight against Putin.”
The ongoing operation is the most ambitious yet for the Russian fighters now loyal to Kyiv.
“While we’ve had some joint operations in Belgorod, and some were separate, it is true that today we formed a truly united front for the first time,” Baranovsky said, referring to the Legion’s coordination with the other two formations.
“In this, we are also showing the fragmented Russian opposition that it is possible to unite.
In fact, we are the true Russian opposition.”
“This marks a new milestone for the resistance movement and in the coming months we will continue to set more complex goals for our missions, so hopefully one day we will reach the main one—the destruction of Putin and his regime.”
‘Army of Killers’This week’s incursions are not the first.
Attacks ran through 2023, with a May campaign forcing the evacuation of thousands of Russians from the border region and the dispatch of military reinforcements.
Both sides should have a good idea of what the other can bring to bear.
Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense ministry by email to request comment.
“Their ways aren’t especially surprising for us,” Baranovsky said.
“We’ve seen their blockheaded ‘meat assault’ methods in Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
It’s the only military strategy they have, so if you can deploy some ingenuity and forward-planning, you can catch them by surprise.”
Alexei Baranovsky, a volunteer of the Freedom of Russia Legion who goes by the callsign “Lutik,” is pictured at an undisclosed location in Russia on March 12, 2024 amid a cross-border raid by pro-Ukraine Russian… Alexei Baranovsky, a volunteer

As per the statement of one volunteer, the pro-Ukrainian Russian rebel formations are fighting their way across the shared border between the two warring nations with the aim of inciting a rebellion against President Vladimir Putin.

Two waves of incursions into Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk regions were launched on Tuesday by volunteer paramilitary groups operating under the Ukrainian military: the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), the Siberian Battalion, and the Freedom of Russia Legion.

Under the call sign “Lutik,” volunteer Alexei Baranovsky of the Freedom of Russia Legion told Newsweek that the rebel fighters planned to “march on Moscow” at some point during the intense fighting. “The subsequent liberation of Russia from Putin,” he stated, is the objective. That is our ultimate goal, even if we can’t accomplish it right now. ****.

The most recent attacks across international borders occur as Putin gets ready for the carefully orchestrated presidential contest that he will undoubtedly win this coming weekend. The voting will also take place in the regions of Ukraine that Moscow’s forces have been occupying since their full-scale invasion in February 2022. According to Baranovsky, the rebel operation has been deliberately timed.

This image, which was taken on March 13, 2024, from the Freedom of Russia Legion’s Telegram channel, depicts rebel fighters holding the unit’s flag at an unidentified location along Russia’s border with Ukraine. Taken on March 13, 2024, at an undisclosed location in Russia’s border region with Ukraine, this photo was posted on the Freedom of Russia Legion’s Telegram channel and depicts rebel fighters holding the unit’s flag. Legion of Freedom in Russia.

“We are doing what we can by bringing this ‘air of freedom’ to at least some parts of the country,” he said, characterizing the upcoming election as “Putin’s latest push to usurp power.” “We may not be able to stop the federal election, but we can disrupt the regional votes “. “.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, “Ukrainian terrorist groups” launched attacks at three border locations, but all of the attacks were repulsed.

Guns and ballots.

The re-coronation of Putin will not be shocking, but it will be another setback for the beleaguered opposition movement in Russia. The war against Ukraine has been used by the Kremlin to further stifle any opposition within the Russian public and civil society.

In February, the unofficial opposition leader Alexei Navalny passed away in an Arctic prison colony, providing a somber reminder of what awaits Russians who are brave enough to oppose Putin’s regime.

Soon after Navalny’s death was reported, Zhanna Nemtsova, the murdered anti-Putin politician’s daughter, told Newsweek that Russian pro-democracy activists are “a species close to extinction.”. “.

According to Baranovsky, the rebel groups aim to resurrect the suppressed domestic opposition.

He declared, “We decided that we also want to participate in this election as citizens of Russia—and this is our way of getting our voices heard.”. “We are voting for an uprising, a revolution, and for armed resistance to the Putin regime. “.

“We set an example for the anti-opposition, demonstrating to them that they are not alone and that there are people prepared to fight. We do this by not only shining flashlights into the sky, as some opposition groups have done, but also by brandishing guns, grenades, and armored vehicles—we have plenty of these. We also invite each and every one of them to stand with us against Putin. ****.

For the Russian fighters who are now loyal to Kyiv, the current operation is their most ambitious to date. Referring to the Legion’s coordination with the other two formations, Baranovsky stated, “It is true that today we formed a truly united front for the first time. While we’ve had some joint operations in Belgorod, and some were separate.”.

We are also demonstrating here that it is possible to bring the dispersed Russian opposition together. We actually represent the real opposition in Russia. “.

This is a major turning point for the resistance movement, and in the months ahead, we’ll keep pushing for increasingly challenging objectives for our missions in the hopes that one day we’ll succeed in our primary objective—the overthrow of Putin and his government. “.”.

“Army of Killers”.

The incursions this week are not the first. The campaign in May of 2023 compelled the departure of thousands of Russians from the border area and the deployment of military reinforcements. The attacks continued until 2023. Each party should be well aware of the advantages the other can offer. Newsweek emailed the Russian Defense Ministry to inquire for a response.

“We don’t find their methods particularly surprising,” Baranovsky remarked. “In Bakhmut and Avdiivka, we witnessed their obstinate’meat assault’ strategies. They have no other military strategy, so if you can use some cunning and advance planning, you can catch them off guard. ****.

On March 12, 2024, during a cross-border raid by pro-Ukrainian Russians, volunteer Alexei Baranovsky, also known by the callsign “Lutik,” is seen in an undisclosed location in Russia. On March 12, 2024, during a cross-border raid by pro-Ukrainian Russian units, volunteer Alexei Baranovsky, also known by the callsign “Lutik,” is seen in an undisclosed location in Russia. Additional Alexei Baranovsky.

“They also use indiscriminate firing in the hopes of hitting a lucky shot. This extends to civilian areas as well; no civilians were spared in Ukraine, and no Russians are currently being spared. ****.

That means that even after we have left, they will continue to fire artillery and grenade launchers at us if they believe that our troops are in a Belgorod village. An army of killers employing a lethal tactic. And that is precisely the enemy that we are up against. “.

“The primary measure of success for us is minimizing losses on our end,” stated Baranovsky. Since every fighter’s life is precious to us and we are not Putin’s garbage, every operation is meticulously planned and carried out. “.

“We haven’t suffered a single loss in this outing thus far, despite what the Russian Telegram channels may claim. “.

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