By the end of the day on Tuesday, the group of Russians who launched their mini-invasion of Belgorod Oblast had finished wandering around a pair of villages and hurried back across the border. It took Russia more than a day to mount anything that looked like a response to the cross-border expedition, revealing—and not for the first time—just how weak Russian forces are at many points along their long border with Ukraine.
As far as the less than admirable members of the Russian Volunteer Corps go, it’s unclear if they actually lost any men while raising flags, driving around, and generally spreading panic from Belgorod to Moscow. However, they did lose some vehicles, including what looks to be a pair of U.S.-made Humvees. They were reportedly lost attempting to cross a defensive trench across a minor road when the eventual arrival of Russian forces in the area forced the insurgents to make a hasty retreat.
There has been some analysis suggesting that the images of the lost vehicles were staged, but a closer look makes this seem unlikely. The make, camouflage, and markings of the vehicles match those seen in images and videos released by the Russian Volunteer Corps when showing their entry into Russia. However, the group does seem to have made off with one Russian BTR-82 Armored Personnel Carrier … so that’s something. Maybe they can point at that accomplishment while explaining to Ukrainian commanders why they ran off and lost their U.S.-sourced vehicles. Whether this brief incursion will have any lasting effect on how Russia deploys its forces is still to be seen.
Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues as everyone on both sides of the conflict and in nations around the world waits for the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
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